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  Home & Family Finance Resource Center

Retirement: Credit Card Do's and Don'ts

Susan Tiffany, CCUFC / May 22nd, 2018

What are your retirement dreams? While your list may be long, it surely doesn’t include spending time worrying about credit card debt. Yet that's just what many retirees are doing—and what may be in store for you or a loved one—thanks to economic factors that are making it harder and harder for older Americans to make ends meet. Credit cards have become an expensive solution to the challenges of a fixed income, lagging investments, and rising medical and living expenses.

To help stay clear of credit card debt:

  • DO pay off your credit card debt before you retire and say goodbye to a steady paycheck.
  • DO pay for essentials such as rent or mortgage, food, utilities, transportation, and prescriptions before sending money to credit card companies.
  • DO understand your rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
  • DON'T pay off a big credit card bill by pulling money out of a tax-deferred retirement account. You may have to pay taxes on the withdrawal, which could turn a $15,000 debt into a $20,000 expense.
  • DON'T even think about buying big-ticket gifts for the kids and grandkids until you're debt-free.
  • DON'T wait until your finances are out of control before you seek help. Desperation makes you vulnerable to home-equity scams and predatory lending practices.

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