Credit cards are a part of life, and they can be a useful tool to help us manage our finances, make big purchases, and help us out in an emergency. But the key, of course, is not to let your debt get ahead of you, to the point that you find yourself struggling to manage it.
But how much is too much, exactly?
It is possible to assess whether you are carrying too much debt without knowing your specific numbers. Just answer the questions below, and keep track of how many you answer TRUE to in each section. Then read about your score using the guide at the bottom.
Regardless of your results, remember this: the single most important thing about handling and managing debt is to make a plan to address it. Patriot Funding is here to help you with that. And a firm plan that you can follow will set you on the path to getting your finances in order. Plus all the relief that comes with it!
Signs You Might Be Carrying Too Much Debt:
- You make only minimum payments on your credit cards each month because you can’t afford to pay more than that.
- You pay some of your bills late or skip payments.
- You often wonder if you have too much debt.
- Your credit utilization is over 30%. (Credit utilization is a percentage that captures how much of your total credit you have accessed/spent. So if you have $10,000 worth of credit available total on your credit cards, and are carrying a $3,000 balance, your credit utilization rate is 30% — which is also the recommended maximum CUI).
- More than half of the credit cards you own are maxed out (another way to look at credit utilization).
- Your debt-to-income ratio is higher than 35%.
- You don’t know how much you owe in total on your credit cards.
- You find yourself spending impulsively, partly because it helps you avoid thinking about your debt.
- More than 20 percent of your earnings goes directly to pay down credit card bills.
- You are using credit cards to pay for basic needs, such as gas, groceries and utility bills.
Problematic Signs You Might Be Carrying Too Much Debt
- Your debt-to-income ratio is 50% or higher. (Here’s how to figure out your DTI.)
- Avoidance: you’ve stopped opening bills.
- Your credit utilization tops 50%, meaning you are using half or more of your total available credit.
- You use balance-transfer offers as a way to give yourself breathing room and gain a little more credit to use, instead of using them to pay off high-interest debt.
- You routinely tap cash advance on your credit cards.
- You hide your spending habits from your partner or family members.
- You make frequent late or partial payments on your credit cards.
- Debt collectors are calling you because it has been several months since you made a payment on one or more credit cards.
- You find it difficult to sleep at night, due to the financial stress you are under.
Here’s How to Score:
SECTION 1: Give yourself one point for every TRUE answer in the first section.
If you answered TRUE to more than four of these statements, you should pursue having a professional analysis of your debt completed, to help you formulate a plan to address it.
Additionally, you’ll want to look closely at your monthly budget and see where you can cut and reduce expenses to help you resolve your debt. Cut cable, any other entertainment services, maybe drop a phone line, consider selling your second car: whatever you can do to free up more money to start paying down your debt.
Additionally, consider seeing if you qualify for a debt consolidation loan or a debt relief program, to help you get a firm plan in place to pay off your debt.
SECTION 2: Give yourself one point for every TRUE statement.
If you could answer TRUE for any 2 statements in this section, you are most likely in severe financial difficulty — you need to take action as soon as possible to make a plan to get your debt under control. Your answers indicate that you likely do not have sufficient income to pay down your debt in any meaningful way on your own — and paying only minimums will not move you forward, and in fact, will continue to exacerbate your situation, since credit card debt is only getting more expensive every day.
The simple, uncomplicated truth about burdensome credit card debt is that people from every age group, in every state, from every income and education level, can find themselves in overwhelming credit card debt. And the reasons are as varied and different as people are from each other. So don’t worry about shame or blame if you are in this circumstance: instead, make a plan. Focus on the fact that this time in your life can be temporary — yes, it can take years to come out from under credit card debt, but putting it behind you is your best plan, no matter what.
Reach out to a professional, like the advisors at Patriot Funding, to learn more about ways to address your debt. Start working on your debt-free life, today!