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Thursday, October 09, 2008

Debt and the over-50s

Any research from an organisation, with a vested interest in the subject, has to be viewed for what it is: “something to grab press coverage”.

Payplan, describes itself as the UK’s leading provider of free debt solutions and states that there is a growing problem with indebted ‘pre-retirees’ (aged 50-60) who have average unsecured debts of £41,400. This is 25% higher than the average unsecured debts of other age groups (£32,700).

Not only are ‘pre-retirees’ in significantly more debt that other age groups but it also takes them longer to pay back this debt: their average repayment term in a debt management plan is 11 years, compared with 9 years for other groups. This gap has increased by 27%, suggesting that debt for ‘pre-retirees’ is a growing problem.

Since this research was done before the current round of market turmoil, one can only assume things are going to get worse.

Clearly there are some, probably a lot, of the 50-plus who are not too bright in handling their financial affairs. However, the older age group is sitting on a pile more housing equity than the young. Every day that goes by, more young people will drop into negative equity. That's bad, but its impact on their willingness to spend, will a real nightmare for companies.

We are in for a monsoon of doom and gloom stories. We need to be on our guard to distinguish between the real and manfactured stories. Dick Stroud

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