The first wave of Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) are hitting retirement age, but not without dragging some financial baggage into their golden years.
According to TransUnion's proprietary database, the average debt of Baby Boomers stands at $99,852. Meanwhile, a TransUnion retirement credit health survey shows "Boomers are at risk of damaging their credit health in retirement, with 34% of actively reducing their reliance on credit cards in preparation for retirement - behavior that may actually result in account closures and ultimately, credit score reductions."
Yet of those retiring Boomers surveyed by TransUnion, just 16% stated that maintaining credit health "is a top financial concern when entering retirement." TransUnion's proprietary consumer data also notes that "20% of people in that age range already have subprime credit."
"Our findings highlight the importance of continued credit education for consumers of all ages," says Heather Battison, vice president of TransUnion. "Well-intentioned Baby Boomers are putting themselves at risk by snubbing their cards. Card providers may close unused accounts due to inactivity, which negatively impacts consumer credit. A better approach is to continue to use existing credit cards for small purchases and pay off the balance in full and on time each month."
It may take some time to absorb the fact that one's peak earning years are over, and in retirement, spending needs to be curtailed, and debt reined in. But try telling that to a 65-year-old boomer who's been accustomed to spending liberally during their entire working years.
"Retirees stay credit healthy the same way as anyone else does; do not create debt," says Melody Juge, founder of Life Income Management, with offices in North Carolina and Southern California. "Yet as a retiree ages, they often become more of a risk to any company they are seeking credit from due to the fact that they are most often on a fixed income which flows to them from either Social Security or pension/any form of retirement money. They no longer have unearned income, and they have a limited number of years left in their life."