Top Reasons Why Baby Boomers Are in Debt

Baby boomers across the U.S. carry significant debt. However, according to statistics released by Ameriprise Financial, less than half of them prioritize paying down their debt. In addition, more than 30% boomers who’ve retired carry at least one debt in addition to their mortgage. These stats beg the question – why are so many baby boomers in debt?

Credit Cards

Boomers have grown up using credit cards. With an average of 2.6 credit cards per person, their average credit card debt stands at around $6,700. This, incidentally, is the most common type of debt that boomers have.

What You Can Do

If you’re having trouble with high-interest credit card debt, you might consider looking at what no-interest balance transfer cards, debt consolidation, and debt relief have to offer.

If you feel you are being unduly harassed by a collection agency – not just for credit card debt but for any type of unsecured debt –you might benefit by learning about the rights you have as a debtor under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).


According to data released by Experian, the average mortgage debt of boomers is over $190,000. Besides, many boomers continue making repayments even after retiring.

What You Can Do

In such a scenario, refinancing to a lower rate mortgage might work well for you. You might also check if you qualify for mortgage assistance provided by federal and state bodies.

Auto Loans

Boomers are responsible for the second highest auto loan debt across all age groups. Their average auto loan balance exceeds $18,750.

What You Can Do

In this case, you might benefit by switching to a more affordable car, selling a motorcycle or boat you don’t use much, or refinancing your loan to one with a lower interest rate.

Personal Loans

Boomers take the top spot when it comes to how much they owe toward personal loans across all age groups. Their average balance on this count hovers around $19,250.

What You Can Do

Two common alternatives you have when dealing with high-interest personal loans include looking for one with low interest and debt consolidation. In some cases, debt relief might also be a viable option.

Student Loans

Boomers were responsible for more than 20% of all student loans take in 2020, up from 10% in 2004. In addition, Americans over 50 years of age held over $336 billion as student loan debt in the same year. It averages to a little over $40,000 per household.

What You Can Do

If you’re burdened with a student loan, consider refinancing it, transferring it to your child, switching it to an income-driven repayment plan, getting released as a co-signee, and checking if you qualify for student loan debt benefits.

Medical Debt

While close to half of all boomers in the U.S. have been in debt because of medical expenses at some point, around 23% are currently in debt because of this reason. Many have to bear significant out-of-pocket expenses even when insured. Boomers also have to contend with increasing medical expenses as they grow older.

What You Can Do

If you find yourself in medical debt, start by ensuring that all your bills are accurate, even it in involves using the services of a medical billing advocate. Another option is to negotiate with your healthcare provider by explaining that you can do with all the financial help you get.

Other Reasons

According to the 20th Annual Transamerica Retirement Survey of Workers, around 6% boomers have existing home equity loans. Around 5% owe money to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Around 2% are burdened with very high interest payday loans. One in every hundred boomers has also borrowed money from friends or family. Only 25% boomer respondents of this survey said that their households were free of debt.


While a significant number of boomers are currently in debt, they can take measures to alleviate their financial situation faster. However, if you’re having trouble keeping up with day to day expenses, or are at the receiving end of persistent debt collector calls, you might benefit be seeking legal advice from an attorney who specializes in debt- and bankruptcy-related cases.