Credit allows people to buy goods or services now and pay for them later. Good credit is important because banks and institutions want to lend to someone most likely to pay debts promptly. Credit card debt can prevent you from getting larger auto loans or a home mortgage. Credit card debt has become increasingly common among households in the US. High unemployment rates often force people to use credit cards to finance their lifestyles. This ‘strategy’ leads to significant levels of debt and low chances of repayment. Debt levels can be the worst enemy of people trying to build wealth.
Dangers of Credit Card Debt
On average, the APR on a credit card is about 15 percent, before any other late or debt service fees that may apply. That means that any debt will increase whether you continue to use the card or not. These high-interest rates cause a snowball effect when attempting to pay the balance off. For example, if you have a balance of $5,000 with an interest rate of 20 percent APR and are only making minimum payments, it would take you over 20 years to pay off the debt, and you will end up paying over $11,000 in interest alone.
While credit cards allow you to pay minimum payments, it’s not always the best way to pay down your debt. It’s essential to understand how the high-interest rates associated with credit cards work and to pay off any balances promptly. Carrying a high balance on a credit card can negatively affect your credit score. About 30 percent of your credit scoring calculations are based on how much you owe in debt Credit scoring models generally interpret your credit utilization rate as an indicator that you manage your debt by not overspending. Remember to consider your current financial obligations and continue paying off any amount you currently carry.
How Credit Card Debt Can Spiral Out of Control
Because credit cards are not actually your money, you might feel compelled to overspend. Studies show that consumers spend more money, sometimes double, when paying with a credit card over cash. Using credit cards lacks the “loss” factor when spending money, whereas with cash, you have to part with your money. This can cause you to indulge in a lifestyle that might cause spending to spiral out of control.
Credit card companies use various tactics to encourage consumers to spend more than they can afford by offering low introductory rates, rewards programs, and high credit limits. These things might entice you to make larger purchases, spend extra money to hit reward thresholds or encourage you to spend more during an introductory period. It’s essential to be aware of these factors and to be responsible when making purchases on credit.
Money can be a source of mental health issues, including anxiety, stress, depression, and relationship problems. Credit card debt can cause you to worry about how you will pay your bills or manage finances. People left with credit card debt might feel overwhelmed by their current financial situation and struggle to find a way out. Couples may argue about money leading to further stress about things as simple as basic lifestyle needs. Seeking help might become increasingly difficult, especially if you avoid it. In some situations, harmful coping methods might arise, such as alcohol or drug use to deal with stress, causing further mental or relationship issues. Credit counseling services offered by AFBN can provide support and advice on managing debt and improving financial health.
Strategies for Tacking Credit Card Debt
If you find yourself in a challenging situation with credit card debt, it is important to understand that making a plan and being patient is your best bet for recovery. Take the time to budget and find where to cut back on spending. Sticking to your budget and tackling your debts from the lowest to the highest is the best practice when paying off balances. If you spend too much in one area, determine what might help you save extra money you could allocate elsewhere. If you are considering debt consolidation, consult a financial advisor at AFBN to decide your next best steps. Making a plan and sticking to it is essential when paying off debt.
Credit cards can be a powerful tool to enhance your credit and financial stability. However, with this powerful tool comes the dangers of credit card debt. You don’t want to find yourself overspending and sinking into debt further. It’s necessary to stay aware of your financial situation and to make it a priority to pay off any current debt. You should only use your credit card for purchases you can afford to pay off in full each month, and you should avoid carrying a balance that accrues interest.
If you have found yourself in a situation where you feel you will never be able to recover, it might be time to consult a financial advisor to help you come up with a plan. Contact our team at AFBN to discuss your options to pay off your debt today! You are one step closer to a debt-free life.