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Retirement and debt: How to cope

An AARP analysis of the 2013 Retirement Confidence

An AARP analysis of the 2013 Retirement Confidence survey of people 50 and older from the Employee Benefit Research Institute found that nearly half the adults still working and 40 percent of retirees had debt problems. Credit: iStock

Old retirement notion: You head into your golden years with a gold watch and a paid-off mortgage. New retirement reality: You get no watch and you have a mountain of debt.

An AARP analysis of the 2013 Retirement Confidence survey of people 50 and older from the Employee Benefit Research Institute found that nearly half the adults still working and 40 percent of retirees had debt problems.

There are several reasons older adults are carrying more debt than ever. Some added years to their mortgage when they refinanced their homes during the housing boom; some are helping their kids with overwhelming student-loan obligations; others have simply overspent on their credit cards.

The Federal Trade Commission notes that people with crushing debt often fall prey to scams and unscrupulous businesses, making their problems worse. For a tip sheet from the commission on ways to cope with debt, go to bit.ly/FTC-debt.

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