While being in debt during retirement is likely not what you dreamed of when hanging up the proverbial hat, it happens. In fact, while the average American debt in retirement is hard to calculate, Baby Boomers have an average debt of a whopping $96,984. As more and more people enter retirement with debt (or more debt than they had hoped), we’ve collected some suggestions to help you tackle debt, manage finances as a retiree and live the retirement you had hoped for.
Add routine back into your days by scheduling time to declutter.
Retirement brings with it something many of us have not experienced since early childhood—no (or very limited) schedules to keep! Now that you’re not clocking in each day, you have more time for visiting with friends and doing the things you always wished you had time for. While some find themselves busier in retirement than they were in the prime of their careers, others struggle with how to fill the time. If you are faced with more debt than you planned AND have extra time in your day, introduce a schedule to your day. Keep time for things you love—like meeting up with friends for coffee once a week, gardening, exercise classes, etc.—and add in time for some things you’ve been avoiding, such as decluttering your home.
Now that you are spending a lot more time at home, you may be feeling overwhelmed with the amount of stuff you’ve accumulated over the years. Rather than spending day after day diving into the mess, consider going room by room for an hour a day to get things in order. Create a centralized organization hub for things you remove from each room: one bin for selling, one bin for donating, one bin for keeping (but moving to a different space of your house) and one bin for keepsake items you plan to pass on to your loved ones (now or later).
Sell things you are no longer using or replace them with lower-cost options.
After you’ve had time to declutter your home, sell the things inside (and out) that you no longer need. Use the funds from your sales to address some of the debt you’ve carried into retirement. While you are reviewing your items big and small, take a good look at your bigger ticket items—like your vehicles, boat or RV and your home—to see if it’s time to downsize. When letting go of things you’ve had for years and worked so hard for (such as your house), take time to evaluate the pros and cons of each item and whether or not the sentimental value outweighs the opportunity to reduce your debt in retirement.
Consolidate your debt.
Maybe you find yourself with a mortgage and personal loan, or a personal loan and three credit cards. Take time to meet with one of Verve’s financial coaches to see if refinancing or consolidating your debt can help you not only reduce monthly payments, but also get out of debt sooner and start enjoying retirement more. P.S. If you didn’t set a budget before retirement, it’s not too late to start budgeting now!
Meet with your financial advisor to explore your retirement plan options.
You may be able to pay off your debt in retirement by using proceeds from your retirement plan distributions, Social Security income or pension income. Talk with your financial advisor to see what options you have available to you.