What to do if you are retired and still in debt


retired coupleOne in three retirees is still paying off debt. If this is you, and you're worried about it, here are some options.

One in eight retirees still owe money on their mortgage, with the average amount owed a whopping £50,000, according to new research by pensions company MGM Advantage.

And over a third still have personal debts averaging nearly £7,000.

Worryingly, many of the mortgages with money still owing on them are interest-only mortgages, suggesting there may be no repayment plan in place to pay off the remaining debt.

If you're in this situation, you might be having sleepless nights wondering how you might find the money to pay these debts off.

Here are some options to consider.

Use your savings
If you do have savings, it makes sense to use them to pay off your debts, rather than carry on paying high rates of interest. That's particularly true right now as savings rates are so terrible.

Carry on working
It's not the answer most older people want to hear but working, even part-time, means you still have an income still coming in. Of course, there's the small matter of finding a job and the costs associated with working, such as transport, but if you are able to find a job that pays a decent salary then it is definitely worth considering.

Make cutbacks
You might already have cut back as far as you can. If you haven't, and you're struggling, then it's time to take a look at your household budget.

Write down all your spending for a month and take a look at areas where you might be able to save money.

For example, can you use your car less, or stop eating out? It's tough, but short-term pain can reap long-term gain.

And can you save money by switching your gas and electricity supplier, home insurance, car insurance and other household bills such as your home phone? Spend an hour or two shopping around and see if you can save.

Pay less for your debts
If you have debts such as bank overdrafts, credit cards or personal loans (and the MGM figures says over a third of retirees do), see if you can switch and save.

You could switch your overdraft to a current account such as the Santander Everyday Current Account, which offers a four-month fee-free overdraft.

Or you could pay it off with an interest-free money transfer from a credit card. Right now, the Fluid 24-month card and the MBNA Platinum card offer 24 months interest free on money transfers. You'll pay a fee of 4% of the money you're transferring.

If you have credit card debts, you could get an interest-free period of up to 26 months with a top 0% balance transfer card.

If you have a personal loan, you may be able to switch to a cheaper loan elsewhere. Just be aware of any early repayment or other charges you might incur if you move.

Top 0% balance transfer credit cards

Make sure you're claiming all your benefits
Research suggests that pensioners are missing out on around £5 billion a year by not claiming all the benefits they're entitled to. The GOV.UK Benefits Adviser can help you find out if you're eligible for benefits such as Pensions Credit, housing benefit and Council Tax benefit.

Shop around for an annuity
You shouldn't just accept the first annuity rate you're offered. See what else is on offer, particularly if you have a pre-existing medical condition as this could mean you'll get a higher annuity.

Track down old pensions
If you think you have an old personal or company pension that you've lost track of, you can use the Department of Work and Pensions' free Pensions Tracing Service.

If you could live comfortably in a smaller home, then downsizing is definitely an option. If you really need to raise some money then moving away to a cheaper area could provide a decent nest egg. But bear in mind that if you're moving to somewhere unfamiliar you will need to make friends all over again and you could be far away from close family.

You don't have to sell your home to downsize – you could rent it out and rent a smaller place.

See if you can save by switching gas and electricity supplier

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