Good Debt vs. Bad Debt

When you think about debt, you usually think of all the negativity that surrounds it. Drowning in credit cards because you've only been able to make minimum payments. That dreaded monthly payment that makes you stressed out when you see it hit your bank account.

While debt can be a source of immense negativity to some there is some debt that is good and even advisable. Let's take a look at some examples of debt and determine whether they are good or bad.

Examples of Good Debt

Education: People who graduate college are more likely to have higher earning potential, and having a degree generally makes it easier to find employment.

Examples of Good Debt

Small Business Loans: Being your own boss is often rewarding and challenging both emotionally and mentally. If you succeed with your business, you should be able to pay off your loan within a time period that makes it a worthwhile investment.

Examples of Good Debt

Mortgages: A good strategy as a homeowner is to buy a home, live in it for a few decades, and then sell it for a profit. Or if it's your “forever home, you can own a home free and clear with no monthly payment.

What is Bad Debt?

In simple terms, bad debt is debt you are not able to repay or is on something that does not have positive cash flow. Think anything that is hindering you from progressing financially.

Examples of Bad Debt

Auto Loans: Cars can be difficult to live without, but financing them is not always the best option. By the time you drive the car off the lot, it is already losing value.

Examples of Bad Debt

Personal Loans: Clothes, vacations and lifestyle “luxuries” fall into this category. Clothes are said to be worth half of what customers pay for them, and this becomes very apparent when you walk into any second-hand store.

Examples of Bad Debt

Payday Loans: Payday loans are debt that can quickly turn into a nightmare. Payday loans come with interest rates up to 300%, making them instantly unaffordable for pretty much everyone.

How to Avoid Bad Debt

If you decide to make a purchase that will increase your debt, ask yourself if taking on the debt will benefit you financially in the long run. Is it financing a venture that could reward you in the future, or is the money for a short-term impulse purchase that is satisfying an immediate desire?

Make sure you have an emergency fund in place with 3-6 months' worth of expenses so that a credit card or personal loan is the last resort.

Try and keep your debt to credit ratio low to avoid being viewed as a risky borrower by lenders. Focus on paying off current debt and try hard not to incur new debt during your debt payoff journey.

Other Considerations

Taking out a debt consolidation loan from a bank or other reputable lender can be beneficial because they have lower interest rates. Just make sure to use the cash from the loan to pay off debt and not use it for personal purchases. Also, make sure you are creating new financially savvy habits to replace the bad ones.

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