Ask Terry Questions Need direction: have credit card debt; a lot of equity in home; business is closes to folding; can’t make ends meet

Need direction: have credit card debt; a lot of equity in home; business is closes to folding; can’t make ends meet

By Terry Savage on March 11, 2024 | Financial Planning / Retirement

I’m a widow, 69, have had my own business (provide technical support for a specific software) and business never recovered since Covid. Business lost money last two years.
– My home is worth about $250K, I only owe $97K, so a lot of equity.
– Credit card balance on one card is reaching limit of $20K;
– Never had cc debt until my husband died in 2019.
– Looking for a part time job to supplement my Soc Sec monthly payment, which I’ve been collecting since 2022, and is $3318/mo.
– Thought SS and income from my business would be perfect.
– Savings and retirement accounts down to just about nothing – had to raid them during Covid.

Should I sell my house? I hate to, but if I can’t find a part-time job and my business gets any worse, not sure if I can get ahead of the credit card debt. Are there any other options available?

Thanks so much for any direction you can give me.

Terry Says

I’ll give you my opinion and then I’ll send you to a place where you can get a second opinion that you can trust.
You have come to a turning point in your life, which is always hard to accept. Fortunately, you do have one “savings account”– your house. My first suggestion is to immediately start looking around for senior living places, instead of just an apartment, where you will feel comfortable living for the coming years. You might be surprised at how much you enjoy the company of others in a comfortable setting. And your Social Security should definitely help you pay for a nice place.
If you sell your house, you could pay off the mortgage and credit card debt, and put a bit over $100,000 in the bank– and keep it there for emergencies. And just because you move into a senior community doesn’t mean you can’t get a part time job, and keep your car.

While it will be tough to part with the house, you will no longer have to worry about property taxes, the furnace, and all the other little and expensive things that can go wrong. Some young family can make memories there– just like you did.

It’s best to make this move while you have flexibility on your side, and the energy to start over in a new place. But you knew that, didn’t you! You just wanted me to tell you that!!
Please write back and tell me how things develop.

And if you want another viewpoint, contact the National Foundation for Credit Counseling at 800-388-2227. You can talk to them over the phone, and you can definitely trust their advice.

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