If you are retired and struggling financially, you are not alone. Recent studies show that over 25
million Americans over the age of sixty are economically insecure. Read on for the common
reasons seniors face financial hardship and for possible solutions.
Solving Seniors’ Money Problems
Perhaps because they are retired, unemployed, or under-employed, and they have not been
able to adjust their spending accordingly, often through no fault of their own.
In 2016, Social Security Administration statistics showed that 21% of married Social Security
recipients and 43% of single recipients aged 65+ depend on Social Security for 90% or more of
Obviously less income requires an adjustment in lifestyle and expenses. That is easier said than
done. What if you own a home? You probably have a mortgage payment and property taxes.
Well, property taxes just go up, never down. There’s a fixed and/or rising expense right there,
and if you are skimping on home repairs because they seem too expensive, you are putting
your largest investment in peril of devaluation. What to do?
There is also the issue of medical bills or prescription costs above and beyond what is covered
by your insurance or Medicaid or Medicare. Like property taxes, these also seem to just go up,
never down, and as seniors, age more care is needed. Another fixed and/or rising expense.
Last, many seniors support or partially support adult children or grandchildren. In today’s “gig
economy” there is less job security than ever, and young adults often work more than one part-
time job and still can’t afford to buy or rent their own home. Who is living in your basement?
What to do? You have to live somewhere, you must address your medical needs, and you can’t
kick the kids out, so…?
Financial Solutions for Seniors
Budget and Expenses
First, you need a realistic budget. Be honest – how much money is coming in and what do you
need to meet the necessary expenses? If the two numbers don’t meet, well, there are only two
solutions – more income or fewer expenses.
Where can you cut expenses? Again, do not neglect home repairs, to protect your most
significant investment. But there are many other ways to save money:
- Buy necessities in bulk
- Combine trips, when driving
- Investigate whether there is a less expensive cable TV plan and cell phone plan that
would suit you
- Turn the AC up a couple of degrees in the summer
- Turn the heat down a couple of degrees in the winter
- Take advantage of “early bird” specials when dining out
- Take advantage of the many, many discounts seniors are eligible for in purchasing
goods and services
There is also the option of finding part-time work if you feel you need to increase income. Many
stores hire seniors as greeters or cashiers and depending upon where you live there may be
seasonal part-time work available.
And, it is certainly reasonable to expect other adults living with you to contribute to the
household expenses. If they aren’t at present, have that talk.
Take Out a Reverse Mortgage
A reverse mortgage may be an option if you own your home or have a lot of equity in your
home. A reverse mortgage will provide you with a steady income over your lifetime, after which
the home belongs to the lender. It is something to look into.
File Bankruptcy to Wipe Out Unsecured Debt
If you are mortgaged to the hilt and you’ve run up your credit cards in an effort to keep up with
expenses, you might consider filing bankruptcy. Most seniors will income-qualify to file Chapter
7 bankruptcy, which is a 4-6 month process by which the Chapter 7 Trustee looks at your
income, expenses, debts, and assets, and determines that you qualify for a “discharge” of all
unsecured debts – meaning, you are no longer personally responsible for paying them off. This
is especially useful if you have a great deal of medical debt.
Talk with your family and discuss ways in which you can live more comfortably. Struggling
financially is stressful and you don’t deserve to feel that way after all of these years working and
providing for others. Small adjustments in spending or earning may make a big difference in
your quality of life.
About the author
Veronica Baxter is a blogger and legal assistant living and working in the great city of
Philadelphia. She frequently works with David Offen, Esq., a busy bankruptcy attorney in Philadelphia.