• Older adults, especially marginalized populations, face limitations of choice as they age due to financial insecurity. This population carries more debt today than generations before, making individuals less resilient to unexpected financial emergencies and limiting options for how and where to age. 
  • People are working longer than they used to, resulting in more older adults remaining in the workforce. Yet older adults in the workforce face unique and growing challenges, such as unexpected job loss, which are typically more acute for marginalized populations. 
  • TSF is committed to addressing systemic factors that influence older adults’ abilities to manage debt and generate income by engaging and educating financial technologists, business leaders, and nonprofits to create new financial and employment solutions that bolster financial security for the well-being of all older adults.

Debt Prevention and Management

Areas of Need

  • Older adults do not have enough savings to manage unexpected financial shocks. Surveys paint a bleak picture of older adults’ emergency savings, indicating a dangerous mix of high debt and low savings that puts many older adults in dire financial situations and keeps them from affording the supports they need to remain in home and community. One in five adults ages 62+ (19%) claim to have no emergency savings at all, and 30% claim to have less than one month of income saved for emergencies1
  • Debt is becoming more prevalent among older adults, and the amount of debt they hold has increased exponentially in the past few decades, driven by mortgages, credit card debt, and medical debt. The older adult population carries 50% more credit card debt than younger age segments, with households of color seeing 2x higher ratio of debts to assets than their white peers. High-interest loan bridge solutions also contribute to high rates of bankruptcy among older adults.2 The older population carries 50% more credit card debt than younger age segments. These are high-interest bridge solutions that contribute to high rates of bankruptcy among older adults.3

 

Grant, Investment, and Partnership Focus Areas

  • Improve access to nonpredatory low-interest loans and reduce prevalence of harmful debt. Help older adults avoid predatory/payday loans, e.g., via lower interest rate income advances or supporting legislation to cap interest rates. Invest in debt reduction strategies, e.g., using donations to buy bundled debt or employer-sponsored debt repayment. 
  • Advance emerging income and wealth creation strategies, like emergency savings and guaranteed income programs, that can be effective tools that enable financial stability for TSF priority populations. 
  • Increase access to financial solutions tailored to TSF priority populations. Shape the landscape of financial solutions (e.g., fintech) to better tailor and target TSF’s priority populations. 

Older Adult Workforce

Individuals are working longer than they used to, and as a result the share of older adults in the workforce is growing. The underlying drivers are both demographic (people are living longer) as well as financial (insufficient savings and the rise in social security age), and the shift could represent an opportunity to augment social security and bolster financial wellness for older adults who are able to work. However, older adults in the workforce face unique and growing challenges, which are typically more acute for TSF priority populations. Involuntary job loss is increasingly pushing older workers out of longtime jobs and contributing to growing rates of financial instability for older adults.

Areas of Need

  • Older adults of color are more likely to hold physically demanding jobs that jeopardize job security later in life. Older Black and Hispanic workers are much more likely than older white workers to have physically demanding jobs (>40% for those ages 55–64; >30% for those age 65+), leading to a larger share of older African American and Hispanic workers who are forced out of work by poor health.4
  • Job loss has an outsized impact on older adults, especially marginalized populations, and is occurring earlier in older workers’ lives. Between 2010 and2018, 55% of older workers in the bottom half of income distribution were forced to leave the workforce due to layoffs, age discrimination, poor health, or family concerns (versus ~30% of middle- and upper-class workers).5
  • Regulatory barriers disincentivize work for older adults. Individuals who are trying to augment social security with additional income may lose eligibility for social security — even if they need both to make ends meet — creating a disincentive to work. Asset limits ($2,000) disqualify individuals for public benefits, creating a disincentive to accrue savings. 

 

Grant, Investment, and Partnership Focus

  • Promote high-quality jobs for older adults of all abilities. Minimize involuntary job-loss among older adults by working with cross-sector organizations to understand the value proposition of investing in an older adult workforce and establish best practices and tools to make it easy for them to support older workers.
  • Expand access to and participation in training and job-matching programs. Both nonprofits and private companies seek to connect older workers with training for transitional roles and job-matching supports to identify available positions that fit their skills, interests, and physical and cognitive abilities.
  • Enhance quality of non-traditional employment options. Technology and the gig economy are enabling new ways of working that may be conducive to those who are seeking alternative or transitional employment opportunities due to physical or cognitive limitations, but benefits are often limited.
  • Enable older entrepreneurs and small business owners. Provide resources tailored to help educate, fund, and mentor older founders, as they have been shown to be more successful compared to younger founders.6