DEAR HARRY: I am a widow living in Northeast Philly. My husband and I bought this house as a retirement home when our last child got married. When we bought the house, my husband was still working at age 67. After he died, I used a small life-insurance policy to pay off the mortgage. That saves me almost $1,000 a month. A number of ailments keep me from working, so I live mostly on my Social Security. Things were OK financially until mid-2013, when I started to fall behind on some credit-card payments, so I began to cut back. Now I'm living at a much lower standard. I don't want to go to my children for help. They are doing well, but not so well that I want to upset the apple cart. The branch manager of my bank suggested a reverse mortgage. I'm 72. Do you think that's a good thing for me?

WHAT HARRY SAYS: Reverse mortgages let you remain in your home while you receive monthly payments secured by your house. At the time you sell the house or die, the mortgage is paid from the proceeds of a sale of the house. But some things have to be considered up front. There are fees for mortgage insurance and other items. You still must pay your taxes and insurance. As before, maintenance is on your shoulders. If your heirs want to keep the house, they must pay off the mortgage, but frequently a new mortgage can do that for them. In your case, I see no problem with going for it. But keep a wary eye on your spending.

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