Add burdensome credit card debt to the list of woes the pandemic has made worse for older Americans. New surveys confirm what your letters have already told me: Many of you are struggling to make monthly payments while balances grow. And even those of you who aren't struggling are carrying more of this debt, and paying more interest, than you were before.
So, burn debt we must. If you're carrying $5,000 at current rates of just over 16 percent, you're paying about $67 a month in interest. That drain on your money gets in the way of everything else you want to do, including sleep soundly.
I'll assume you've already dug deep for cash to pay down the balance — held a yard sale, taken on a side gig, sold a car, or used part of a tax refund or stimulus check. That's good, since every extra dollar you pay beyond the minimum is a dollar on which you won't be paying interest.
But if you're still in trouble, you haven't run out of options. Lenders understand that household budgets have been squished, and there are signs of both increased forbearance and new card offers that can make it easier to get back to zero.
Before I get to options you might have, I'll make one important point: Don't miss or delay minimum payments while you plot your strategy. Doing so will lower your credit score and take some of the best solutions off the table.
With that said, here are four distinct ways to work it now.