Debt can be a real financial killer and eat into your ability to become financially independent at any point of your life. If you have any form of debt, then it behooves you to spend some time to learn and educate yourself about the debt that you have, the options that exist, and your own personal financial position. Spending some time to understand these factors can put you in the position to make prudent financial decisions that can drastically improve on your financial position.
Understanding Your Debt
Most people will segregate debt into good and bad components. Good debt is debt that can improve on your short or long-term financial position. Sometimes this comes in the form of increasing your long-term salary, as it does in the form of student loans which can improve your income making potential with higher lifetime wages. Other times, good debt can be used to buy a home, as with a mortgage, which can provide you with a place to live and will likely appreciate over the time that you own it.
Bad debt, on the other hand, is debt that can cause you financial harm as it does with debt with punitive interest rates such as credit card loans and payday loans. These forms of debt provide you with immediate financing, but at a significant financial cost. It is important to understand and educate yourself on the differences between good and bad forms of debt and to work towards having the former and not the latter.
Understanding Your Individual Financial Position
Having said that, not all good debt is good for you. If you have a mortgage loan that is reasonable and affordable by you, then it can be a good thing. If your mortgage payments are more than you can handle and harms your ability to make investments in other income earning opportunities then it may be a poor financial decision for you.
To understand if good debt is really good for your needs, you will need to understand your own financial position. Do so with a budget where you list out your projected income and expenses for the future. Use your past financial activity as a guide and then update it for any known lifestyle changes. Then see how much of a financial sting the payments you are making are impacting your lifestyle and see how you can cope with this on a regular basis. If you are finding that you are falling short as a result of your debt repayments, even good debt may be bad.
Dealing with Bad Debt
Make a list of your debt and the terms of each debt form. Track your monthly payments, interest rates, and special features on each form of debt. Then, once you have this list built out, start to look for alternatives. If you have a student debt with a five percent intertest rate, for example, you should consider consolidating it under a new loan if the interest is lower and the terms of the new debt are not too restrictive, once you consider the costs of entering into a new loan.
Considerations When Tracking Your Debt
The major considerations that you should pay attention to when you are considering consolidating or negotiating new/revised debt should include the:
– Interest rate on the debt
– the monthly payments on the debt
– the maturity of the debt
– the costs of refinancing or consolidating the debt
– your current credit score and the ability to obtain attractive debt
– the current interest rate market and how it compares to your current interest rate on your debt
Ultimately, you should consider how the market for debt that you are looking to enter into will compare with the debt you are in. Further, you should pay attention to your ability to service the debt that you have. Once these factors are considered you can start to make educated decisions about what to do with your existing debt.