Dad's 70 and retired. Has pension and SS income, but no assets. I am trying to advise my parents on how to deal with the enormous credit card debt they have accumulated. Mom is 72 and has some dementia and can’t seem to comprehend that they cannot continue spending. Dad is 70 and I have only just now forced him to take a close look at their debt – he has had blinders on – he didn’t even know the balances on their joint accounts. They are retired, and living in CA.
The good news – they have a large fixed income; social security plus a fixed pension. If they had no debt, they would be doing really well. The bad news is that they have 9 credit cards and a car loan with $118,000 in accumulated debt. They are using over $3000 of their fixed monthly income to maintain this debt. So far, they have been making payments and have a good credit record, but it is becoming more and more difficult as the credit they have available continues to drop. One big necessary expense could put them over the edge. They have pared current living expenses way down, eliminating eating out, and other luxuries fairly well, to the point that Mom feels deprived in her daily life. They have no savings, NONE. No assets (apparently, when they sold the last house they owned, they used the proceeds to pay down other debt) and are now renting. Yes, it is all their own fault.
The problem is they are now at the point that they are going to start having to make a choice between paying on their cards or cutting out things that are really needed. I figure they can afford to pay about $2000 of their income towards debt each month, and need to figure out how they can get there. If it was just my mom, I might favor letting everything start defaulting as there is no longevity in her family. But my dad will be around for a long time; his own mother is still alive and well. I don’t think bankruptcy is a good option, but they have not yet me with a bankruptcy attorney. Their income is too high for Chapt. 7, and I think his pension, since it is paid as income (?), is vulnerable under chapt 13 and I doubt they will be happy with a negotiated settlement of their debt.
Since he does have an income, is a personal loan for debt consolidation a possibility? Would anyone give such a loan with a decent rate to someone his age? If they go to a consumer credit counseling service and turn over all of their card debt, will they work with them to keep their repayment to a level that they can afford? If they declare bankruptcy or use a debt repayment plan, I would imagine their credit will be ruined; if they need to more to a different rental, will I have to cosign for them in the future?
I do have some cash, and part of me wants to pay off some of their debt and have them repay me with no interest, but they have so much debt, I’m not sure I would make a big enough dent in it to make a difference.
Thoughts on where to start?