Saturday, November 3, 2012

How Seniors Can Learn to Cope with Debt

Money (Photo credit: 401(K) 2012)
Seniors can get themselves into debt for various reasons — cars, homes, schooling for kids or grandkids, and large purchases — and all of that debt creates a burden. In some cases, a senior’s debt can even affect his or her retirement savings or Social Security. 

When you have too much debt, though, it requires a lifestyle change to cope with it. The best bit of advice you can take is to avoid purchasing items on credit, but here are some ways to help you cope with the debt you already have. 

Start Looking for Deals

Before making any purchase, ask yourself, “Is this item a “need” or a “want”? If you don’t “need” the item, consider delaying the purchase until the item is on sale. Haven’t you ever heard someone bragging that he or she never buys anything unless it is on sale? This actually is totally possible. Almost every item goes on sale at some point or another, especially after the holidays. 

Here are some other ways to look for good deals: 

  • Price Checking: You can use a cellphone bar code scanner to quickly check the price of similar items at several stores. This way you can be sure you are getting the best deal. 
  • Shopping Clearance Racks: When items are out of season, you can buy them for a discount on the clearance racks. It’s a great way to save money on clothing. 
  • Use two-for-one deals: Of course, everyone still needs to have fun, so you can do things like have a night on the town with entertainment deals

Save Money on Groceries 

You have to eat so you can’t save money by not buying groceries, but you can be more conscious of the things you do buy and look for ways to save money at the grocery store. 

Here are a couple of ways: 

  • Clip Coupons: Most grocery stores run their own ads, and many will accept competitor coupons. It does take some planning ahead, but the savings are worth the effort. 
  • Buy in Bulk: You can save quite a bit of money by purchasing items in bulk that your family uses on a regular basis, like toilet paper, cereal, and many non-perishable items. 

Earn Extra Money

Of course, making more money is the best way to cope with debt. If you’re retired and can’t pick up a part-time job, here are a few ways to make some extra money on the side: 

  • Take Online Surveys: There are several market research companies that need people’s opinions. You can earn a little extra money by participating in these quick surveys. 
  • Sell Items on auction sites: If you have items lying around that you no longer use, try making a quick buck by selling them online. 
  • Host a Yard Sale: This is one of the quickest ways to make some money. Plus, it helps you get rid of clutter in your home. 

Look for Other Ways to Save Money

Some people cope with debt better than others simply because of the lifestyle they choose. Here are some simple changes you can make in your lifestyle to save some money and manage your debt better: 

  • Carpool or ride your bike to work. 
  • Take a vacation closer to home. 
  • Take advantage of matinee senior prices at the movies instead of paying full price at night. 
  • Purchase gifts at the RewardIt store
  • Use your developed skills to make money, like teaching piano or guitar. 

If you implement even one or two of the ideas mentioned above, you’ll be better off financially, which will help you start to cope with your debt. Of course, the more proactive you are about managing your finances, the better off you’ll be.

Natalie Bracco is a freelance financial writer and an amateur baker. When she's not busy in the kitchen, you can find her contributing to sites like

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