9 Reasons Debt Is Bad for You

A little debt won’t hurt, will it? That’s how it starts. You make a small purchase on your credit card and the before you know it, have thousands of dollars in debt. But, what exactly is wrong with having a little – or a lot – of debt? A lot, actually.

Debt encourages you to spend more than you can afford.

man stressed in debt
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There’s something about debt that tempts you to keep spending even when you can't afford the payments. Part of the allure of debt is the fact that you can get the emotional high from getting new things now, without having to deal with the pain of parting with the money now. It can feel like you’re getting something for nothing. But eventually, that spending will catch up with you and it won't feel so good then.

Debt costs money.

Debt feels free when you're swiping your card or signing loan documents, but it’s not free at all. In general, you pay a price for the debt you create. That price comes in the form of interest. The higher the interest rate, the more you’ll end up paying for your debt. Also, the longer it takes you to pay off and the higher your debt load, the more interest you’ll pay.

The only exception is an interest-free loan or zero percent APR credit card promotion, but even that has a limit and can be lost if you default on your payments.

Debt is borrowing from your future income.

Anytime you take out a loan or charge something on your credit card, you’re actually borrowing from the money you hope to earn in the future. Do you really want to spend your money paying for something you've already used up and don't get much value from any more?

High interest rate debt causes you to pay more than the item cost.

If you buy a $2,000 living room set on your credit card at 11% and only make the minimum payment, you’ll end up paying more than $3,400 by the time you completely pay off the debt. That’s $1,400 more than the furniture actually cost. Even if you raised your monthly payment to $100 and paid off the balance, you’d still pay close to $220 more than the cost of the furniture. On the other hand, you could set aside $150 month for 14 months and make the purchase in full with no extra cost.

Debt keeps you from accomplishing your financial goals.

Monthly debt payments limit the amount of money you have to spend on other things, not just retirement, but the trip you always wanted to take or Christmas presents for your family. The more debt you accumulate, the more your monthly payments will be and the less you have to spend on everything else.

Debt can keep you from owning a home.

Credit card, auto, and student loan debt are all considered when apply for a home loan. If your other debt payments are too high, you may get turned down for a mortgage loan. That means you’ll be stuck renting, or in your current mortgage, until you pay off some of your other debt.

Debt can lead to stress and serious medical problems.

When you have debt, it’s hard not to worry about how you’re going to make your payments or how you’ll keep from taking on more debt to make ends meet. The stress from debt can lead to mild to severe health problems including ulcers, migraines, depression, and even heart attacks according to a poll done by Associated Press and AOL.

Debt can hurt your marriage.

Debt puts unnecessary pressure on the household’s finances and creates a lack of financial security for your spouse and your children. Debt can spark arguments who’s creating debt, how much debt is too much, and who’s responsible for the debt that’s accumulated. These fights can escalate and lead to a breakdown in the marriage.

Debt hurts your credit score.

Part of your credit score – 30% to be exact – is based on the amount of debt you have. The more debt you have compared to your credit limits and original loan balances, the lower your credit score will be. Even if you’re not shopping for a credit card or loan, your credit score affects your life and the cost of other products and services, like auto insurance.