Many women have complex relationships with money. Learning how to manage your finances is not something that you are usually taught as a young woman. As a result, many women in their sixties find themselves dealing with complex financial challenges or wondering how to pay off debt in retirement.

How do we get into financial trouble?There are several possibilities. Most women did not come from wealth, so, they have a strong desire to provide their children with the opportunities they might have wished for when they were younger.

In addition, many older women are still supporting their older children who are struggling. Or, perhaps they lost money in the financial crash or just never sat down and assessed how much they really owed to creditors. Whatever the cause, the only way to deal with this reality is to calmly build a plan.

Here are some tips to get out of debt and manage financial challenges in your 60’s in a positive way.

Don’t Panic – Assess the Situation Calmly

Take a deep breath and assess your financial situation. Write down all the money you owe and be honest with yourself. Ask yourself “what’s the worst that can happen” (hint: it’s usually not as bad as you fear) and keep reminding yourself that learning how to deal with debts is important but not worth making yourself sick.

The best way of dealing with debt is to approach the situation calmly and without panic. Don’t be tempted by payday loans, car-title loans or get talked into co-signing a mortgage. Only do things that are going to have a positive impact on your financial situation. Financial moves made under duress tend to be less than ideal.

Talk to Your Family to Solve Financial Problems Together

If your debt is a result of helping a family member, talk to them. Be honest about your situation, no matter how embarrassed that makes you feel. It is better for everyone in the long-term if you approach this process honestly.

Helping a grown child to get a mortgage, buy a car, or invest in a business is a very positive thing to do, but only if you can afford it. They will learn to grow on so many levels if you let them stand on their own two feet and find their own way. On the other hand, if you give to your kids without any conditions, they might get complacent and take your help for granted.

Unless you tell your loved ones that your desire to help them is starting to hurt you, they might not even know that it is a cause of stress. Being honest is the best policy – it will help you avoid compounding a bad financial situation and it will empower your personal relationships on so many levels.

Talk to Your Creditors to Find Mutually Beneficial Solutions

Creditors want their money. You can be sure that they will make this clear at the beginning of every conversation. However, if you call them first and simply say, “I cannot afford to pay this bill, so, what solution can we find together?” you often get a very different response.

Learn how to negotiate with creditors since they often offer hardship programs or special payment plans that can be arranged. Many times, you can even negotiate a reduced amount if the debt is excessive.

It never hurts to connect with the customer service representative as a human being – chances are they have faced similar situations before by working with other customers, so they will understand. Be calm and constructive. Say that you are not trying to avoid payment and that you are taking responsibility for the situation. You just need a little extra time to pay the debt.

Put Yourself First: Be a Little Selfish

Being in debt be overwhelming, so, it’s important to make yourself feel as secure as possible. Hopefully, you have already put a little money aside for absolute emergencies. Even putting $100 in a drawer so that you know you can buy food is important.

Create lifelines for yourself. We live in very tough economic times and many women over 60 are struggling financially – it’s nothing to be ashamed of. You are not alone. At this time in your life being a little selfish is OK and putting yourself first will give you the focus and strength to take action.

Being in control will help you feel more confident to find a job and settle those debts. Managing your finances in a positive way leads to freedom – and part of that sense of freedom needs to be creating your own little moments of joy and abundance.

Look for Ways to Make Extra Money

Of course, cutting costs is only part of the solution to getting out of debt. The process will go a lot more quickly if you are able to increase your income, while you reduce your costs. Finding a job after 60 can be challenging, but, there are several things that you can do to take control of the situation. I recently sat down to talk with Nancy Collamer to discuss what women over 60 can do to make money from their passions in retirement. There are also numerous part-time opportunities available, including becoming a freelance writer.

Facing financial challenges in our 60s can be a scary prospect, but, you are not alone. If you surround yourself with positive people, and approach the situation calmly and honestly, you will be on your way to a debt free life in no time.

What have you done to improve your financial security in retirement? What advice would you give to a friend who is trying to get out of debt. Please join the conversation.

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If you want to make a bit of extra money in retirement, you won’t want to miss my interview with Nancy Collamer.

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