Early Warning Signs You're Carrying Too Much Debt
While many people know when their finances are in significant trouble, you may not recognize the early warning signs that you’re carrying too much debt. There are signs you can look out for that will let you know that serious financial trouble is coming and it’s time to do something about it before it gets out of hand.
Here are a few warning signs that you may be able to relate to:
If you don’t have an emergency fund, or have very minimal savings, you have nothing to fall back on if you should miss a paycheck or have an unexpected expense. And if you’re living paycheck-to-paycheck, any unexpected expense can put you behind on your bills.
Stress with Unexpected Bills
Does opening the mailbox fill you with dread? Are you wondering what will be there today that you’ll need to pay for? If an unexpected bill causes a strong emotional response, like anger or fear, then your finances are headed for trouble. Having an emergency fund will help to eliminate this dread and give you a little more confidence when you go to the mailbox.
Money is Always on Your Mind
While we all have days of worrying about an upcoming expense, if your thoughts are consumed on a daily basis with worry about your finances or how you will handle your bills, you have a problem.
Most of us are guilty of hiding a purchase from someone because we don’t want them to know we bought a new pair of shoes or something else we really didn’t need, but if this is a habit, something’s wrong. Do you hide your non-essential purchases on a regular basis? If so, it’s probably because you know you didn’t need it and you really can’t afford it so you don’t want anyone to know.
Only Making Minimum Payments
If you’re struggling to make just the minimum payment on your credit card bills or loans, there’s a problem. These types of loans are high interest and will cost you more the longer it takes to pay them off. If you can only manage the minimum payment, it’s time to look at your debt.
Using One Debt to Pay Another
It’s one thing to pay your utility bills with your credit cards to earn points, but if you’re doing it because you don’t have the cash to pay them, that’s a problem. Not only are you going further into debt, you’ll end up paying more with the interest rates on your credit card.
Your Card is Declined
If your credit or debit card is declined when you try to make a small purchase, you’re clearly in trouble. You’re maxing out your credit cards and running your bank account down to its last dollar to get by. This is a big red flag that more financial trouble is coming because it only gets worse from here. Once you’ve drained your accounts and maxed out your cards, how will you pay your bills and buy groceries?
If you can relate to any of these early warning signs that you’re carrying too much debt, it’s time to get a handle on your debt. Consider working with a debt and budget counselor or getting a second job if necessary. You can also use our 20 question Financial Wellness Test to help determine if there are any significant red flags in your financial outlook.
Updated January 2020