Top debt management ideas for struggling seniors
Jan 9, 2012, 8:31 a.m.
If you are a senior near or at retirement age, you may be still struggling with debt management. This can be a very sobering situation, but it can be managed. Managing debt advice will come at you from every direction as scammers and fraudulent companies try to get a hand into your pocketbook.
As has always been true, being careful with your money is the best advice for seniors to continue to remember. If memory is an issue, obtain competent and trustworthy assistance with money management before problems occur. Retirement debt can become a devastating experience for you if you are in danger of losing assets like your home or other valuables.
Start as early as possible to plan for happy, financially secure senior years. Do not get caught up in the widespread schemes out there that target seniors. Some scammers even use other seniors to trick unwary seniors out of their life savings. Always know who you are dealing with and that they are a credible, reputable resource.
Find Reliable Resources
There are websites with a great deal of sound advice, debt calculators, and other financial tools you can use to project the outlook for your money situation. Here are special tips for all seniors to consider:
Watch out for companies that use other seniors to scam seniors.
Beware of "free" retirement planning lunches -- the lunch and presentation may be free, educational and interesting, but after the presentation these scammers hook you up with a hard sell salesperson to close the deals.
Always check out an adviser's credentials; never rely on their word.
Stay with registered products like stocks listed on NASDAQ or NYSE.
Investigate annuities that promise you income but in reality have high surrender charges.
Beware of financial sales pitches that incorporate common ties designed to suck you into giving them your cash. They may use common ties like religion, age, social or background to gain your confidence. That is why scoundrels are called "con" men or women.
If you are financially strapped and at or near retirement age, you should be looking for new ways for managing debt left over from earlier years. Medical expenses are often a huge contributor to senior retirement debt. This can create overall living problems for those who are on a fixed income.
Reverse mortgages -- these can be good, unless you outlive the term of the mortgage. If that happens, you are homeless with no asset. The lender will take your home.
Tapping equity in your home. Another bad idea for seniors. Having a paid off home is the best asset you can have. Mortgage expense is a high monthly draw from fixed incomes.
Tapping life insurance -- a cash surrender loan does not have to be repaid. Heirs get less.
Bankruptcy -- morally unwelcome to many seniors, but may be an option.
Do not pay bills -- creditors can only put a lien on assets but not collect until you die.
Remember that your retirement income is exempt from collection agencies and creditors; they cannot take your retirement income pension, social security payments or IRA withdrawals.
Money Safety and Protection Tips
Work only with a reputable company and an independent custodian to handle stock funds.
Promises of high returns are always a red flag. Beware!
Retain full access to any of your custodian accounts.
Double check advisers; have them check on each other.
Compare statements from your custodian of funds and your financial adviser.
Retain full control over your money.
Never make a check out to your adviser; only write checks to the neutral custodian company.
Be sure that you are the only one who can get money out, not the advisor.
Retirement years are a lot more fun when the wolf is not knocking at your door. Plan early, plan wisely and enjoy your golden years with early debt management.
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