Monday, January 10, 2011

Debt and getting old don’t mix

The UK’s leading debt charity Consumer Credit Counseling Service (CCCS) has published a booklet to help those approaching retirement to sort out their debt problems.

The guide was produced in response to research showing that its clients aged 55 and over had, on average, higher debt levels but lower incomes than its other clients.

The average debt for a CCCS client over the age of 55 is £25,826 compared to £24,274 for clients overall, while their average annual income was £12,920, significantly lower than £17,316 for the average client.

The UK’s poor over-50s, the Have Nothings, have American cousins.

In December there was an article in The Street that identified two trends amongst some of the US’s retirees. One group is racking up debt at a pace they won't live long enough to pay off, and have few qualms about doing so. Other debt-heavy retirees feel forced to declare bankruptcy in growing numbers.

A recent survey commissioned by the nonprofit CESI Debt Solutions found that almost 40% of retirees are not worried about paying off their debts during their lifetimes.

The survey found that while 56% of retirees had outstanding debts when they left the work force, 96% refused to delay retirement because of the outstanding debt.

The article went on to list a litany of depressing facts about the debt problems of the debt-laden group of older Americans.

All of this is another symptom of the fragmentation of the older age groups into the Haves and the Have Nothings. A dismal prospect and a significant marketing challenge. Dick Stroud

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