Mortgages, Wages Force Many to Delay Retirement

Debt weighing down 60-something Americans: Wall Street Journal
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 7, 2011 2:12 PM CDT
A sign advertises a reduced price in front of a home for sale in San Anselmo, California.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – Many Americans are being forced to put off retirement thanks to mountains of debt and lower wages, a feature in today’s Wall Street Journal asserts. Because wages have barely kept up with inflation over the past 35 years, Americans have been borrowing more money and saving less. As of 2008, a whopping four of every five households headed up by 60- to- 64-year-olds didn’t have enough savings to pay off their debt without touching their retirement accounts.

Mortgages are the biggest culprit. Last year 39% of households with heads in their early 60s still had primary mortgages to pay off, and another 20% had secondary mortgages—up from 22% and 12% respectively in 1994. And thanks to the housing downturn, those would-be retirees can’t just sell their house at a fat profit as many had long planned. “I imagine I’ll be working until I’m 70,” laments one 59-year-old minister buried under mortgage and credit card debt.

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