We’re Giving Away $50,000! Enter Now. See Official Rules



Contests and

Driver Safety

Piggy bank on the road - AARP Driver Safety

Take the new AARP Smart Driver Course!

Happy African American couple

AARP Books

Visit the Books Section

Enjoy titles on retirement, Social Security, and becoming debt-free.

Jobs You Might Like

most popular


Financial Freedom

Managing Your Debt and Finances

Understanding how to manage debt can help your overall financial situation.

Money and Calculator

— © Corbis

En español | Picture this: You’re driving along, within the speed limit of 35 mph. Realizing that you have a little push or pull — up or down — you decide to accelerate your speed another 5 mph. Hmm … so far, so good. All seems fine and you reason that maybe you could accelerate even another 5 mph, and so you do. 

In less than five minutes, when you’re now traveling 45 mph, you hear the wail of a siren and see the spinning red lights of a patrol car in your rearview mirror. 

Is a similar scenario playing itself out in your financial life as you try to take control of your debt and finances?  Sometimes, it’s all too easy for us to talk ourselves into spending a little more than we can really afford, only to anxiously discover we’ve crossed the limit and are in the red or close to it. 

About 43 percent of American families spend more than they earn each year. In the last few years, the number of Americans in debt has escalated to record numbers. And in terms of overall debt (including credit cards and student and car loans), mortgage debt continues to rank highest on the list. Many homeowners are struggling to avoid foreclosure even as banks write off billions in consumer debt.

Given the fragile state of the economy, you need to develop a better understanding of consumer credit and become more financially savvy about how to best manage your debt and finances. This isn’t optional. And while millions of Americans are experiencing tough times, the Great Recession has been particularly difficult for blacks and Latinos.

A recent survey by Ariel Investments, a privately owned, Chicago-based money management firm, revealed that 21 percent of blacks (compared with 11 percent of whites) increased their credit card debt; 17 percent of blacks (compared with 7 percent of whites) are delinquent on a home, car and/or credit card payment; and 5 percent of blacks (compared with 1 percent of whites) may go or have already gone into foreclosure.

Additionally, a 2009 study by the Pew Hispanic Center showed that 9 percent of Latino homeowners say they’ve missed a mortgage payment or were unable to make a full payment; 3 percent said they received a foreclosure notice in the past year; and more than 76 percent of Hispanics say their personal finances are in fair (46 percent) or poor (30 percent) shape.

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts


Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.


The Cheap Life

Jeff Yeager Cheap Life Ultimate Cheapskate AARP YouTube web series save money

Catch the latest episode of The Cheap Life starring Jeff Yeager, AARP's Ultimate Cheapskate. Watch

Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

Member Benefits HomeServe

Members can protect their homes with comprehensive repair plans from HomeServe.

AARP Credit card from Chase

Members can get cash back rewards on purchases with the AARP® Credit Card from Chase.

Woman holding smartphone in city, Google map tool

Members can find discounts on the go via the AARP® Member Advantages Offer Finder app.

Member Benefits

Join or renew today! AARP members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.

Rewards for Good

Your Points Balance:

Learn More

Earn points for completing free online activities designed to enrich your life.

Find more ways to earn points

Redeem your points to save on merchandise, travel, and more.

Find more ways to redeem points


Advance your skills. Transform your career.

Explore your learning possibilities.