Do you have a debt problem? And, how to avoid one
The Debt Checklist
'I don't really have a debt problem. Right?'
We all know the story about the frog and boiling water. If you turn up the heat gradually, the frog will not pay attention and will eventually be cooked. The same thing is true of debt. You'd never borrow $10,000 with nothing to show for it, but adding $100 or so to your credit card balance each month doesn't seem like a problem. Until the water starts to boil...
So how can you tell if like the frog, your debt is slowly killing you? We've come up with a list of indicators that it's time to be concerned about your debt. Review the list below and see if any of these apply to you:
- If your credit card balance is over $10,000 and rising
- If, after paying your bills, you don't have enough for your day-to-day living expenses (i.e. food, gas, etc.)
- If you've been late paying rent or mortgage more than once in the past 12 months
- If you're afraid to total up your debts because you don't want to know how much you owe
- If you've been hiding some debts from your mate
- If you're having more frequent arguments or disagreements about finances with your mate
- If the amount you owe on credit cards and personal loans is increasing each month
- If you use a cash advance on one card to make a minimum payment on another
- If the interest rate on your credit card increases to the upper teens or higher
- If you have to choose which bill you'll pay late this month
- If your credit card balance is more than 50% of your credit limit
- If you've been rejected when you applied for a new credit card or personal loan
- If you've paid overdraft fees twice in the last 3 months
- If your credit score has dropped more than 25 points in the last 6 months
- If the total that you pay in credit card minimum payments, student and personal loans totals more than 10% of your take home pay
- If your mortgage is more than 30% of your take home pay
- If car payments are taking up more than 15% of your take home pay
- If you find that you don't have any money left at the end of the month to add to an emergency fund or retirement account
- If worries about your finances are causing you to lose sleep
The Price You Pay for Being In Debt
Before you decide to do something about debt, you need to recognize what that debt is costing you. We've listed a few of the prices you pay for being in debt.
- Higher interest rate for credit cards and personal loans
- Some loans are not available to you
- Higher auto insurance rates
- Money spent on interest cannot be used for other things
- Higher rate for home mortgage or home equity line
- Higher rates for auto loans
- Lower credit score
- Past purchases consume this month's income
Is It Time to Take Action?
If you checked any of the problem indicators or find that you've suffered any of the costs of being in debt you have a choice to make. You can continue to pay an ever increasing price for your debt and hope that eventually you don't lose everything in bankruptcy. Or you can take action to free yourself from it.
If you want to get out of debt, we're here to help you.
- Subscribe to our free weekly newsletter Surviving Tough Times. Each issue will show you ways to save money that can be used to reduce your debt burden. You'll also find at least one article specifically related to getting out of debt.
- Take the free Dollar Stretcher Get Out of Debt Course. We'll introduce you to the tools you need to get out of debt. You don't need to search them out on your own. We've done that for you.
- Visit the 'debt' section of The Dollar Stretcher library.
- If we've overlooked something, send us an email.
If you have any friends who might be struggling with debt, please feel free to share this with them.