Invitations to open new credit accounts are everywhere you look ― in the mail, on TV, in stores, and online. As tempting as they may be, it’s important to carefully evaluate your financial situation to determine if taking on more debt is a wise choice. Start by answering these key questions:
Is it “good” or “bad” debt?
Before you borrow, determine if the debt you’ll be taking on will have a positive or negative impact on your finances.
- “Good” debt can help you reach your life goals. A student loan or mortgage is an example of debt that may have a positive impact on your future. This type of borrowing can be seen as an investment in your future. Make sure the payments and fees are manageable for you in both the short- and long-term before you take on any new debt.
- “Bad” debt provides no long-term return. Taking out a loan to finance a vacation or using credit cards for shopping sprees, recreation, and dining out will only put you deeper in debt and increase your monthly payments.
Limit Your Debt
Use cash and credit to fund large purchases or projects. For example, use cash to pay for project materials, and a line of credit to pay for labor.
What are my options?
Before you borrow, ask yourself:
- Will it improve my situation in the long run or is this an impulse purchase?
- Could I wait until I can pay for this without having to borrow?
- Is there an alternative to borrowing ― like selling something I own to fund the purchase?
- Could I use my savings to pay for it instead of borrowing?
- Will the additional monthly payment strain my budget and cash flow?
Set a Limit
If what you want is over your purchase limit, take a couple days to think about it. You may just find you’re no longer interested in taking on more debt.