Although credit can be harder to come by these days, it is still extremely easy to get into debt. Furniture companies and car dealers still offer deals that involve little or no down payment and let you pay off the debt over long periods. Tempting credit card offers still appear regularly in your mailbox.
In some ways, easy credit is good. If you're starting out or starting over, credit can put a roof over your head and bread on the table and give you time to get on your feet. And, for people who are very disciplined, credit can be a way of keeping track of expenses. Some people put almost every penny they spend on credit cards, so they will have an itemized list each month of exactly where their money went.
But many people aren't that disciplined. For them, credit is a way of having things now instead of later. That's fine if there's enough money later to pay for the things. But if there isn't, that means mounting bills, credit card balances, and big-time debt.
How much debt is too much? Take the following quiz to see if debt is a problem for you.
Is your savings cushion inadequate or nonexistent?
Are you using credit cards for items you used to buy with cash?
Are you at or nearing the limit on your credit cards?
Are you unsure about how much you owe?
Is an increasing percentage of your monthly income going to pay off debts?
Are you able to make only the minimum payments on your credit cards?
If you lost your job, would you be in immediate financial difficulty?
Copyright National Foundation for Consumer Credit
If you answered yes to two or more of these questions, you need to take a long, hard look at your finances.
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