I remember when our church in Emmett, Idaho, finally was able to retire the mortgage.
Our parish had a pot luck dinner; several parish members spoke, including my mother, and then a ceremony to burn the mortgage. I was 11 years old then and knew nothing of money or a mortgage; I remember how happy everyone was. No mortgage meant they owned their church!
Now a new realization is coming forward; those of us who were 11 in 1957 are pushing into retirement in a group known as the Baby Boomers. Unfortunately, along with our emergence into retirement, we are bringing with us a nasty little dangler. A recent report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau noted that homeowners ages 65 and older with mortgage debt increased. These increases are not slight; they are disturbing. Baby Boomers entering retirement with a home mortgage have risen from 22% to 30% in the past 10 years. Even those before the Baby Boomer Generation are carrying debt, the Greatest Generation, those over age 75, have seen their mortgage debt soar from 8% to 21%.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau also noted that the rise in mortgage debt was a potential threat to the retirement security of older Americans. However, they also stated that debt is also in the form of more credit cards and some cases, a holdover from the college years, student loans.
The evolution from those who lived through the depression forward to the Baby Boomer Generation is a complete change in attitudes; debt is ok, as long as there is money to service the debt. However, many retirees now understand that debt can negatively affect retirement; stress to make the cash flow continue is causing medical issues.
What to do? If possible, reduce as much debt as possible, consider investigating a reverse mortgage as an option for mortgage debt relief. Then, add up your assets and carefully look at them, likely certain debts can be lowered by talking to your credit card company.
Be careful; money spent today on a credit card must be repaid with future earnings, earnings that might not be as much as once thought.
Help is available; here is a link to a nonprofit counseling service; ask for help: https://www.nfcc.org/.