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Left by my husband when he recently became disabled. We have credit card debt which is more than we have left in our IRA investments. Need help making decisions on how to transition to a much lower lifestyle Wife 78 years old Husband 77 years old with serious heart and memory issues.

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Ladylee: No apartment as you won't have control of rent hikes.
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This solution is not for everyone but Check out Angels' Respite Program in Europe/Romania for a financial break: Angelsrespite website for 40% to 50% of the cost vs. comparable Nursing Homes in the US. Six and nine month respite plans available. It's like a student foreign exchange program but for seniors with Dementia.
Best to you shirlandralph
Love to all.
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My suggestion is to be very careful in the selection of a Financial Advisor. Check with friends that have used one, are they satisfied with the advice they have received? Interview several before making a decision.
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Lowering the cost of living can help many people, Down size to a smaller house, or sell the house and move to an apartment or smaller condo. Get rid of that second car which costs money to license and insure. Eliminate or consolidate high interest credit cards. Take a Home Equity Loan or Reverse Mortgage. End expensive dinners out. Shop economically or put a moratorium on buying anything for 6 months. Get rid of cable, internet, and home phone.
Use, Senior Discounts for things, ( grocery shop on senior discount day). Stop getting nails and hair done in a salon. Switch to a wash and wear hairstyle. Limit clubs and association memberships. Sell off things you are no longer using. Hire cheaper lawn care, eliminate house cleaning services. Check with your local Senior Center for help with Chores.
Good luck.
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are you making your payments?
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I would suggest an advisor first. They will work with the credit card company with lowering the debt. You may be able to consolidate into one loan u can handle. Bankruptcy would be the last thing I tried. Like stated rules have gotten stricter. Good luck.
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Many people, sadly, fall into this trap. Try to get with a financial advisor who will MAKE some money for you.
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too young for this - One more thing about your answer. She didn't ask for your advice. She asked for references and resources.
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When using credit cards, they have to be paid back----it is not "free money". If you loaned somebody a bunch of money, you'd want to be paid back too. That's what credit cards do---loan you money to buy stuff with the agreement that you will pay it back. You don't say how much money you owe, but it must be quite a bit if it is more than what you have in your IRA.

Contact each and every creditor---explain the situation and ask if they can work with you to set up a payment plan that is more forgiving than what your current monthly payments are. The caveat is that you cannot miss one single payment, or else the deal is off.

Another option is to get no-interest credit card and transfer the balance(s) of your credit cards onto that card. It should give you at least one year of no interest if you do that.

That is pretty much what an "advisor" would do, anyway. And you'd have to pay them to do it. There's not a lot you can do when you're strapped with credit card debt. You can file for bankruptcy, but there are specific provisions about how much money you can keep in your bank accounts, what assets you can keep, if your car is worth more than a certain amount you have to put it towards paying the debt back, whether or not you can keep your house.

Your question is very vague---you want help to "transition to a much lower lifestyle". What does that mean? transitioning to a much lower lifestyle means that you have to stop doing things that cost so much money---stop buying things, get out of the high cost way of living. Simplify your life. Clearly, with credit card debt over and above what you have in IRA investments, you've been living way above your means. You have to start living within, and even below, your means to make your money last. If you have a big house, sell it & move to a house that suits your needs now---you are 2 people, so therefore you only need one bedroom (or maybe 2, if you sleep separately). If your husband has serious heart & memory issues, he shouldn't be driving---if you have more than one automobile, sell them. Sell any luxury items you don't need---i.e., boat, vacation home, etc. Give up your country club membership. If you have a luxury car, sell it & buy a reasonable car that gets good gas mileage.

It would be much easier to give you advice about how to transition to a much lower lifestyle if you gave us examples of how you live now. If there is very little you can skim from the top because you are living as frugally as you can, that's much different than if you live high on the hog & rack up a bunch of debt all the time. If you have that much credit card debt, you're living way beyond your means. Stop buying stuff you don't need. If you are able to mortgage or second mortgage your home, do it to pay the credit cards. There is also something called a reverse mortgage, if you own your house out right. The credit card companies will get their money---they will sue you and get a judgment and then your bank accounts will be frozen and your assets will end up with liens against them. You're much better off getting them paid off, even if you have to sell stuff to do it.
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Good point, RA.

There also have been changes in bankruptcy laws, as a result of the recession, I believe, and also understand that some aspects were tightened up so people can't as easily walk away from their debt.

Shirl & Ralph, as Eyerishlass suggested, use the statements you receive to contact creditors directly to see what they can work out. Sometimes banks have specific departments for addressing debt. If you deal with Bank of America, don't expect any cooperation though.

But you might try this route first with reasonable creditors as any debt solution company you hire probably would take a portion of the debt as payment, i.e., it's not free. If you can get solutions through the creditors directly, I don't believe you'd have to pay them fees. They have an incentive to work things out to get paid. Financial advisors have an incentive to make money.
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If you must file bankruptcy make sure they explain all the underlying ramifications with it. One thing comes to mind with forgiven debt. Anyone who writes off over 500 in debt is required to report it to IRS and it is counted as unearned income and taxed the year it is written off. This is just a hidden gem that catches many people off guard come tax time. So ask alot of questions before making a decision. After working in a tax office for 11 years and seeing many people caught off guard by this I like to make sure others are aware of it ahead of time.
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I agree with Bob. Visit with a few qualified attorneys. If you have a child or other family member who you might turn to, get them involved now before you make major decisions. Best of luck.
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I went bankrupt. Saved me money there. I also restructured my mortgage --even after bankruptcy. Part of a government plan. Saved money there too. Lastly, don't think of money as money that you're losing. Money is now care dollars that I use to care for my at home with hospice care wife.
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There are many credit counseling firms out there, and some are better than others. For general information, start with the FTC, the nation's consumer protection agency:
https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0153-choosing-credit-counselor
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I believe that bankruptcy might very well be an appropriate alternative in this case.

Grace + Peace,
Bob
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On one of your credit card statements there should be a statement in bold type that says something about needing debt counseling and it gives a phone number to call.

I have a family member who is paying off a large debt and he went through Debt Reduction Services (DRS). He's been with them a long time and hasn't had any problems with them as far as I know.
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