Retirement is a topic that often makes financial news. Unfortunately, the news is not always good. The Social Security Administration has said that the wave of Baby Boomer retirements was a significant and potentially problematic one. Almost 33 percent of our workforce, including 48 percent of our supervisors, will be eligible to retire over the next few years.
Heading into your golden years, one is likely to consider your financial landscape and take a look at prioritizing which debts to focus on, so that your quieter years are not spent trying to catch up with debt that you’ve accumulated over your lifetime.
Debt can ruin a retirement, especially for women. Before most women start their work lives, they're already in worse shape financially than men, and it usually gets worse, according to a report from the American Association of the University Women.
Women tend to take out bigger loans to finance education, accept lower starting salaries than men, and usually take more time off for family reasons. That's how debt follows women through life, often growing along the way.
Here are some debts that need your attention before your retirement day arrives:
According to a study by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, housing debt was the major component of debt for families with a head age 55 or older. The debt levels among those with housing debt have obvious and serious implications for the future retirement security of these Americans, perhaps most significantly that these families are potentially at risk of losing what is typically their most important asset—their home.
Nearly 33 percent of Americans' total expenditures in 2015 went toward housing, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. One way to shave down your mortgage is to apply extra money toward the principal.
In recent years, almost three-quarters of students graduating college were saddled with an average debt of over $25,000 each.
One thing to keep in mind here is that your child can finance their student loans, but you cannot finance your retirement. If you’ve taken on the responsibility of paying for your child’s education, start repaying loans as soon as they come due, make more than the minimum payment, and as soon as your child gets a job after graduation, have them contribute a certain amount each month to paying down the debt.
If you have $10,000 on a credit card with 12% interest, for example, it’s going to take more than nine years to pay it off if you're only making $150 payments, according to Credit Karma's calculator, and you'd pay over $6,500 in interest.
In addition, it would be wise to look at your highest-interest debt and consolidate. Some companies offer zero percent interest for 12 months on a balance transfer.
Eliminating debt doesn’t necessarily mean you have to make sacrifices, it just means you need to change your habits. So sit down, go through your budget, and figure out where you can trim the fat.
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