Bailing Mom And Dad Out From Debt

parents debt life and debt joe jane talaba
Joe and Jane Talaba are in trouble.

"Did it just kind of sneak up on you?" CBS News correspondent Anthony Mason asked.

"Yeah," Jane said.

The retired GM worker and his wife almost lost their Ohio home because, as prices rose and their income remained fixed, they ran up their credit-card bills.

"You know you get these credit card offers and they say, uh, this low interest rate. And you fall for it," Jane said.

The Talabas fell $57,000 in debt before they asked for help.

That's not a call a son usually expects to get.

"No, it was a complete surprise," said Joe Talaba, Jr. He had to take over his parents' finances.

"And then I've already taken care of the rent for this month," he said. He also helped them file for bankruptcy.

"How did you feel about having to file for bankruptcy?" Mason asked.

"Terrible," Joe said.

"Terrible," Jane said.

But seniors like the Talabas are the fastest-growing group in bankruptcy court.

Because credit card debt has been soaring for the newly retired, from an average of less than $2,000 to nearly $6,000 in less than a decade.

"They're pretty typical unfortunately," said Micki Raybin, the Talabas' bankruptcy attorney. She says parents are often ashamed to ask for help.

"It's when the kids find out," she said. "That's when they come to see me. And the kids bring them."

The role-reversal can be uncomfortable, but credit counselors recommend:

  • Having frank discussions with your parents about their finances
  • Look for any drastic changes in their spending habits that could signal money problems

    To get out of this, they even put the property up for sale.

    "Right," Joe Jr. said. "We have to do that."

    By selling their home and moving to an apartment, the Talabas should be able to clear their debts. Meanwhile, their son says the credit offers keep coming.

    "You're still getting these even though they're in bankruptcy?" Mason asked.

    "Yes!" Joe Jr. said.

    FYI: Learn How To Stop Credit Card Offers Here.
    It's now Joe Jr.'s job to make sure his parents never see those credit card offers.
    • Anthony Mason
      Anthony Mason

      CBS News senior business and economics correspondent; Co-host, "CBS This Morning: Saturday"