Retired and drowning in debt? Here's a gameplan

There is only one thing worse than being young and deeply in debt: being old and deeply in debt.

Not that being middle-aged and deeply in debt is any picnic either, but at least when you have a couple of decades until you retire, you have a fighting chance of getting your financial house in order. In fact, the AARP found that people over age 55 are the most likely group to file for bankruptcy protection.

"It's particularly hard if you've played by the rules all of your life, you followed the standard financial advice: you maxed out your retirement contributions only to have your 401(k) decimated by the stock market decline, and you bought a house as a wealth-building tool only to have it worth less than you owe with no hope of selling it," says Gail Cunningham, the spokeswoman for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.