Despite all the negative headlines, debt is not always bad. Good debt can allow people to do what they otherwise could not, including, going to college, or buying a house or car. Bad debt is used to make purchases that are not necessary and purchases the borrower cannot afford. One way to determine if something is good debt or bad debt is the interest rate. Generally, good debt is more affordable and can be tax deductible. There is an additional type of debt in-between good and bad debt, which can be referred to as “convenience debt.” This debt represents the monthly credit card balance that builds up because it is easier to pay for purchases with a credit card. Convenience debt should be paid off on time each month to avoid interest charges.
It is important to remember that the fastest way to get out of debt is to pay off the most expensive debt first. Therefore, if you are behind on more than one credit card, you should put the most money toward paying off the most expensive card and pay the minimum balance on the others. Another important step is to take care of your credit report and credit score. To maintain a high credit score you should pay bills on time, pay down credit card debt to below 10% of the card’s limit, do not apply for new credit cards or close credit card accounts, and maintain a history of paying phone and utility bills on time.
If debt becomes overwhelming or something occurs that will make repayment more difficult, inform creditors of what has happened. Many companies will be willing to work with you by lowering interest rates or fees, extending the term of the debt, or reducing the amount of debt.
Jean Chatzky, How To Avoid Debt Problems Before They Start, https://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/31507914/ns/today-money/ (accessed August 1, 2011).