Paying Off Debt as Retirement Nears

By Kris McDowell

Take Charge America has been offering financial education and counseling services since 1987. Michelle Sullivan, personal financial consultant with Take Charge American, says, “Although paying down debt in retirement can be challenging, you’ll regain a sense of financial freedom and be able to enjoy your hard-earned money.”

Remember to budget

You can’t pay off your debt without a budget, which gives you a clear picture of your income and expenses. Make any necessary spending changes to prioritize debt repayment. Many budgeting tools are available including apps like EveryDollar or Mint. You could also use a spreadsheet.

Prioritize your needs

Paying off debt should be a priority heading into or in retirement. Be cautious of spending too much on adult children. Offer non-monetary assistance, such as childcare, if they are struggling financially.

Sell big-ticket items

Consider selling big-ticket assets like RVs, boats or extra vehicles on platforms like Craigslist, Auto Trader or Boat Trader.

Book a gig

Generate additional income on your own schedule with the gig economy. Drive for Uber/Lyft or consider renting out a spare room on Airbnb/VRBO. If you’re handy or can perform odd jobs, TaskRabbit can connect you with people who need help with tasks from dog walking to deliveries. Find part-time remote work on sites like FlexJobs or UpWork.

Explore debt consolidation

Balance transfers on credit cards, a home equity loan or a debt management plan can provide interest rate relief and allow you to make a single monthly payment rather than juggle multiple payments. Remember to carefully consider fees associated with any consolidation loan or balance transfer.

Downsize

If you own your home and have equity, consider selling and moving into a smaller, more affordable house. Use proceeds to pay off debt.

Beware of scams

Watch out for scams that claim to help you eliminate debt or offer some sudden financial windfall. They feed off your stress and anxiety.

For more, visit takechargeamerica.org; credit counselors are available Monday-Friday, 5 am-5 pm PST.

Paying Off Debt as Retirement Nears

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