For older Americans on fixed incomes, the prospect of never-ending debt can be demoralizing and depressing. After all, their best earning days are likely behind them, and the desire to retire may be pushed back later and later because they need to earn a bit of additional money to make ends meet. For some, retirement may not even be an option because of unending debt.

This may drive some older Americans to try debt consolidation loans or programs where multiple debts are combined into one monthly payment. Why this may sound like a good idea at the outset, there are some pitfalls that should be considered (and avoided).

Using debt consolidation as a cure for bad spending habits – A debt consolidation loan or program will not help if you have poor spending habits. It is the equivalent of workout out for an hour at the gym every day but eating donuts and pizza every day for breakfast. So before considering debt consolidation, consider how your spending will change.

The fees may not justify the costs – It is also important to consider that the fees charged by debt consolidation firms may not be worth the services they offer. After all, you as a consumer are perfectly capable of performing many of the things a consolidation company may perform.

You may end up paying more over time – Sometimes the lower payments that come with a consolidation loan or program come with a catch. Essentially, you will be paying more to pay off the debt because you will be making more payments.