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Bankruptcy Filings Surge Among Older Americans (wsj.com)
44 points by rbanffy 7 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 37 comments





Really very surprising that such a long piece doens't seem to mention once that the current crop of older Americans are teh first generation to live largely on credit, lived in houses 3x larger than previous generations, purchased 10x more new cars than previous generations, and have spending habits that far outstrip anything their progenitors would ever have considered.

Yes, healthcare costs a lot, and social security pays very little. To previous generations, such knowledge would have been motivation to spend less and save more...


Having been peripherally involved with a small handful of that aging crop and their experiences with "security" I'm not sure you're being entirely fair by lumping all their ills together because they over-consumed. I'm not sure you noticed life around you but we're all but force-fed raw, unadulterated consumerism. Be that as it may, sure, careless spending seems like it would definitely be a contributing factor - credit where credit is due.

Unless one is a ff rich elder (or at least well above moderately wealthy) the suction of any wealth is aggressive and unrelenting, especially if any services are required. Not until someone is totally insolvent do the "real" safety nets (what's left of them) begin to kick in. If you can't afford your ever escalating healthcare costs then you will likely not get the care you need until your assets total $0.00 and you're living ss check to ss check.

There has been and continues to be a sickly draw on any wealth and an unrelenting hacking away of the security of society as a whole. We are surrounded by vultures that eat the living in what seems like an "I've got mine and now I want yours." agenda that does nothing for society, rich or poor and continues practically unabated.

Bankruptcy seems like a perfectly good, viable and reliable option when considering the stacked deck.


>We are surrounded by vultures that eat the living in what seems like an "I've got mine and now I want yours." agenda that does nothing for society, rich or poor and continues practically unabated.

In other words, Capitalism working as intended.


I suppose, yeah. Maybe that's a valid point in that until we can (want to?) cordon off core social services (for the whole of society) from the reach of private capital then we will inherently continue to create and sustain a market that zeroes in on the truly vulnerable. For example services just like healthcare including aging with dignity in assisted living after they've either been taxed out or need help or both.

For that latter part I've witnessed two mind-numbingly ugly siphoning of all assets to the tune of thousands and thousands of dollars a month until assets are gone and then they're forced out and into pretty sub-optimal situations and neither of these two examples started off anywhere near the edges of being poor but they certainly did die that way.


The baby boom generation (as a whole) benefited the MOST from a surging economy, the debts of which are falling on Gen X and Millennials.

I'm not singling out individuals, obviously not every boomer benefited, but it seems, like NFL players, we are not good at budgeting for retirement and perhaps there is value in maintaining that social safety net before it's too late.


My parents are giving me a hard time because I won't buy a new car for my spouse. We currently have two cars, one is paid off and is reliable. The other is almost paid off and is also reliable. When I ask why we should buy a new car, I often hear responses like "because I want one", and "because I deserve it".

I question our society when given those type of responses.


It's a societal issue, but if your wife is asking those things, it's also now a you issue.

It also fails to mention how everyone under 50 is being co-opted to finance these lifestyles and literally create notions of generational wealth.

This. What a nightmare.

I fantasize about buying a house and find it outrageous that most of the houses I would want to buy are nearly 100 years old. Anything since has been very cheaply constructed and designed for a strange lifestyle that seems to prioritize individual greed. To me, my home is second to my neighborhood and this should result in smaller homes which make for a walkable and neighborly surrounding. What was going on in these greedy baby-boomers minds? They are like aliens to me.


Discussion on the same story from NYT, a few days ago:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17697361



Everyone here's talking about saving in your youth to afford healthcare in your old age, but one of the best investments you can make is in your own health when you're young. A big part of why countries with universal healthcare often have _smaller_ per-capita budgets for healthcare, is because a few turn-your-head-and-coughs in your 30s, 40s, and 50s, will benefit you far more than expensive drugs and procedures in your 60s, 70s, and 80s.

Obviously it's not an either-or decision, and everyone's health declines eventually, but an efficient economy is all about spending the money where it will have the highest utility. I see new mothers forgoing checkups on their kids because their coverage sucks, and I wonder how much more we'll end up spending when the odd mole, rash, or ache turns into something more serious.


So, old age for me boils down to two options: waste my savings on "medical care" designed to swindle me, or eat my gun.

Not a difficult choice at all.


Or work on having the means to move to a country with a more sensible health care system before you reach that point.

And you can move before reaching that point. It'll be a lot easier.

Well, you need the means. Not just the cost of moving; the residency or citizenship.

That I know of, both Germany and Ireland are very quick to issue work visas if you have a sponsoring company and both Berlin and Dublin have huge tech ecosystems.

I forgot Canada. They have a points system for some professions. They penalize age, so, the sooner you move, the better.

Isn’t that basically a matter of paying for it in some form?

No, a lot of countries require that you take tests and show that you're looking for a job in that country. Of course it'll also cost money.

For my country the following applies:

* Must have residency permit, permanent or temporary with intent to be permanent

* Must pass residency exam (tests language, law, etc.)

* Must be living in country for 8 years minimum

* Must have independent source of income that isn't social welfare or unemployment benefits

* Sufficient knowledge of local language

* Must not have been convicted of a crime

* Must pledge to the democratic order laid out by the constitution

* Annulling or otherwise revoking your previous citizenship


Most people can get away with a work visa. It's usually much simpler.

None of those countries will have solvent healthcare systems when I'm old, so what's the point? By 2060, Germany's working age population, for example, will be 30% smaller than today. Who is going to bankroll their welfare state?

I don't think it's a foregone conclusion that none of those countries will have solvent healthcare systems. There are steps they can take to improve the currently dire future. And I would imagine that pretty much any projection will show a more favorable situation than the US over the next 30-40 years.

Given the choice between a system that looks unsustainable in the future versus one that is currently unsustainable, I'll bet on the future one.


At 34 now, I hope to.

Can anyone recommend countries that are easy to move to? With urban environments and culture, without being too expensive for cost of living? I have tech skills but am not one of the trendy rich engineers. I commit my free time to art, as it brings me life. Unfortunately, it is increasingly unable to bring me survival.


Assuming you're American, look up the Dutch-American Friendship Treaty.

>Unfortunately, it is increasingly unable to bring me survival

It's only gotten easier and will continue to get easier to make a living off of art.


China?

Hemingway did

My first thought was, "This is terrible!"

My second thought was "Hm...maybe this means I'll be able to afford a house after all."


I have to admit, when buying a house in the bay area, this was one of my thoughts of the risks of how housing prices could fall. As the baby boom ages, downward pressure on housing markets and therefore housing costs.

Whether that's enough to make up for influx of new people from elsewhere in the country and the world, who knows. And of course, many houses will just be inherited and turned into rental properties...


No mention of medical costs at all? I'd expect that'd be a driving factor as even with platinum insurance you're going to be feeling the pinch due to medication costs, co-pay fees, and other supplies which aren't covered, not to mention the hassle of dealing with insurance companies.

Medicare will pay for medical care - drugs too through Medicare Part D. It won't pay for long term care. Think nursing home. If you can't pay for that then the best option is Medicaid. Medicaid is means tested so generally the people in that situation spend everything they have, declare bankruptcy and then go on Medicaid.

Oph. This is going to be bad for a long time.

I'm not an economist but here are my basic thoughts:

1. Inflation has caught up to them 2. The lack of stable planning for those retiring

This is going to devastate the middle class/lower class in expensive markets (I.e. CA and NYC where the parents support their kids starting out and in jobs where they can't sustain their lifestyle without extra support)


I actually think older americans in those expensive markets are relatively better off, assuming they own rather than rent.

At least at present, their homes are worth a considerable amount. Selling them off and moving to a comparable or smaller home in a low-cost area can make up for a significant amount of their failure to save adequately otherwise.

Obviously, that may not always be what they want to do, but at least they have an asset to work with. Those who are facing the same predicament and already live in the low-cost area, don't have that option.


They were talking about this on 1A last night (NPR). Apparently the average amount of debt, is something like 3 years worth of wages.

Does that include mortgage debt?

Probably not, since a mortgage is a lien on an asset you can sell for, assumably, about the cost of the loan.



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