retirement

How to stay away from retirement debt

Debt is an increasingly common problem in the United States. According to a 2009 study by Demos, a public policy research group, the average credit card balance carried by Americans 65 and older who carry balances rose to $10,235 in 2009, up 26 percent from four years earlier. If you are reaching the retirement threshold and want to tackle your debts before it's too late, here are some solutions to beating retirement debt.

Stop overspending. The American dream is to retire on a beautiful oceanfront property with a comfortable income; unfortunately, it isn't a realistic picture. If you can't afford it, you shouldn't have it -- even if the credit card companies encourage it.

Cut up the credit cards. If you are eager to pull out the plastic for every purchase, cut up the credit cards. There is no faster way to retirement debt than maxed-out credit cards with high interest rates. Using cash will let you see and feel exactly what you spend.

Generate extra income. If you are still able to work, pick up additional jobs or hours at your current job. Whether it's a part-time job, online-based or overtime, generating additional income is crucial to avoiding retirement debt. It might be hard work now, but it will give you additional freedom in the future.

Sell everything. When you have no other way of generating income and you have significant debt, sell anything you can. Cars, boats, furniture, clothes, toys, homes and various items can bring in substantial money to fend off impending retirement debt. Use Web sites like Craigslist.org to list your items for free, or have a garage sale. If you are computer savvy, you could also try eBay.com or Amazon.com.

Save. Americans simply aren't saving enough. For many, instant gratification outweighs the importance of saving, causing an increase in retirement debt. Start saving or investing your money wisely. Use Bankrate.com's savings calculator to determine what it will take to beat retirement debt. Also determine if you should pay your debt first or begin to save.

Once your debt is cleared away, find safe places to invest your new found wealth. Read Bankrate.com's "Safe places to park your cash" for tips.

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