Many older adults use credit cards to cope with unexpected expenses that exceed their income. This strategy can work for a while. However, over time your credit cards can reach the maximum borrowing limits. Credit card companies also can increase the minimum monthly payment and charge sizable fees and other penalties for late payments. This can make it even harder to get your finances under control.
Here are four solutions to help manage debt and get back on the path to financial stability.
1. Figure out a repayment plan
There are two approaches you can use to pay off multiple debts. One method is to pay the debt with the highest interest rate first while making minimum payments on the rest. This reduces the overall cost of paying your debts.
Another method is to pay the smallest debt first while making minimum payments on the rest. The satisfaction of paying off a loan quickly can motivate you to pay the rest. Not sure how long it will take to pay off those debts? Use the debt calculator on NCOA’s EconomicCheckUp® to find out.
2. Consider credit counseling
If you pay more than 20% of your income to cover debt payments, then you also may benefit from a credit counselor’s advice. A good credit counselor can help you organize your finances and develop a budget. Credit counseling costs vary, but some nonprofits offer the service for free or at discounted rates.
Get a list of approved credit counseling agencies from the U.S. Department of Justice.
3. Get help with family budgeting
Paying off debts only works if you also have your spending under control. Use this spending tracker from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) determine where your money is going, and what small changes may add up to savings.
4. Learn about filing for bankruptcy
Bankruptcy is the legal procedure that allows you to reorganize your financial situation or discharge your debts if you cannot pay them. There are several different types of bankruptcy, so you must carefully weigh your options before deciding if this is right for you, and which one you should file.
Learn more about bankruptcy procedures from the Federal Trade Commission.