Second, read a new report from Demos, a New York-based public policy research group. It found a frightening increase in credit card debt among older Americans. "Conventional wisdom suggests that this segment of the population -- with lifetimes of financial experience, an over 80% homeownership rate and a generational ethos of thrift -- would be immune to the record debt increases of the 1990s," the report notes.
"Retiring in the Red," available on the Demos Web site, found that self-reported credit card debt among seniors had nearly doubled from 1992 to 2001, reaching an average of $4,041. An earlier report, "Borrowing to Make Ends Meet," noted that self-reported credit card debt may understate actual debt because it is only one-third the level reported by the Federal Reserve.