The following is a special guest post from The Dollar Stretcher.
“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 won’t pay attention and will eventually be boiled. 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, you 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 your rent or mortgage more than once in the past 12 months
If you’re afraid to total up all your debts because you don’t want to know how much you owe
If you’ve been hiding some debts from 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 lately 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
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
Lower credit score
You can’t control how much you spend for past purchases each month
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. The choice is your’s.
The Dollar Stretcher has been helping people “live better…for less” since 1996. Their free Dollar Stretcher Debt Course will introduce you to the tools you need to get out of debt. Sign up for their 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.