A recent Los Angeles Times Article highlighted the struggles that can befall older Americans who find themselves with crippling debts to pay off and without homes to live in.
Dolores Westfall, one of the subjects of the LA Times article, has been overwhelmed by debts ever since the recession in 2008. Dolores is now 79 years old and living out of an RV because she cannot afford a stable residence. Her savings were wiped out and she made the crucial mistake of not thinking ahead or doing any “long-term financial planning.” Dolores now says that she deeply regrets the fact that she “never put away much in savings” or bothered to keep track of, or diversify, her stock portfolio.
One of the major risks for anyone who fails to plan ahead for retirement is that they will have to keep working as they get older. This can be difficult for a number of reasons. Many seniors have health problems or simply aren’t able to meet the physical labor requirements of certain jobs, limiting their employment options. Moreover, some workers retire early only to find a few years later that they need to re-enter the workforce because their savings have dried up. The problem is that they face age discrimination and competition from younger job applicants who are willing to work cheaply in order to get job experience.
Dolores Westfall learned firsthand about the difficulties faced by seniors in the United States. In 2008, she lost her home and her job as the economy tanked. When the recession hit, housing prices in the U.S. plummeted, leading to nearly five million home foreclosures over a four-year period. Approximately one-third of these foreclosures involved homeowners who were 50 years of age or older.
Dolores now drives across the country in her RV, moving from city to city and state to state as she searches for temporary, seasonal jobs. In the past seven years, Dolores has passed through 33 states – and that number is still growing. Her part-time jobs have included stints as an Amazon warehouse clerk, a crowd control officer, a cavern tour guide, a door-to-door photo salesperson, a kids’ ride operator at a travelling roadshow and a resort receptionist. Each month, Dolores earns minimal pay from her jobs but is kept above the poverty line by Social Security income.
Another reason that Dolores has been able to survive as long as she has is by racking up Credit Card Debt. She estimates that she currently owes upwards of $50,000 on a number of different credit cards. Credit card debt is an issue for many Americans who don’t consider the high interest rates or the impact that significant debt can have on their ability to obtain a loan or secure permanent housing in the future.
To learn more, check out the Los Angeles Times article, “Too Poor to Retire and Too Young to Die.”
If you are in need of debt management solutions, you should speak with a qualified debt relief and bankruptcy lawyer. The McDowell Posternock Apell & Detrick, PC team helps clients in Cherry Hill, Moorestown, Maple Shade, Browns Mills and the rest of South Jersey, as well as the Philadelphia region. We can talk to you about your debt management options. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.