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A few hours after I filed a column last week on seniors paying off their debts using reverse mortgages, I received the latest newsletter from consumer insolvency expert Scott Terrio.

My column looked at how more people are retiring with debt and finding the burden too much. In some cases, they’re kicking the problem down the road by using a reverse mortgage. Interest accumulates on a reverse mortgage, but you don’t pay it or the principal until you sell your home.

Mr. Terrio fills in some of the details on seniors and debt. Forty-two per cent of senior households had debt in the most recent data, compared to 27 per cent in 1999. Vehicle debt held by seniors nearly tripled between 2005 and 2019, while mortgage debt quadrupled.

Parents helping their adult children financially is the new normal in family life. It’s less common for those kids to help their parents, but high debt levels among seniors suggest this could change. Boomers and Gen Xers, do you know how well set up your parents are in their retirement or pre-retirement years?

If not, ask. You could start the conversation about debt. Mention how you’re working to reduce debt where possible, and then ask about their experience with debt. Recognize that debt today is about more than overspending.

Inflation has driven up the cost of living, particularly eating, and seniors are less adaptable because they don’t get pay raises or bonuses like working people. We should note that seniors do get inflation adjustments in their Canada Pension Plan retirement and Old Age Security benefits, and from some defined benefit pension plans.

Retirees in debt have options beyond reverse mortgages, including a home equity line of credit. A consultation with a financial planner sounds like good value for seniors who need a debt repayment strategy.

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Rob’s personal finance reading list
Welcome to the ‘vibecession’

Feeling negative about inflation, the economy and your personal finances? It’s a global thing. According to this CNBC story, people in countries around the world are stressed about their finances. If we’re not in actual recession, we are definitely experiencing a ‘vibecession.’

The #1 rule of investing

Losing money hurts more than a making money feels good. Govern yourself accordingly.

Pro tips for all-inclusive resorts

The writer of this article says she’s been to 35 all-inclusive resorts. Here’s her list of 10 rookie mistakes people make when booking this type of vacation. Yes, tipping is covered as a topic. Now for a list of tips for people travelling in retirement.

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Calling all DINKS

Are you a dual income, no kids couple living in Canada? What is the best part about it, and the worst part? Please fill out this survey to share your experience with The Globe.

Reader comment:

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Tools, Explainers, Guides and Charts

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In the social sphere

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Watch: Personal finance expert Preet Banerjee explains the federal carbon tax. Here’s an explanation of the Canada Carbon Rebate, with numbers for each province

Money-Free Zone: Bob Dylan covers an underrated Beatles song, Things We Said Today. Dylan’s voice is a little, uh, hoarse, but the effect of it is to add some depth to a great love song. And, the original version, from A Hard Day’s Night.

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