Today debt and instant credit are part of our everyday lives. The convenience of instant credit, however, has taken its toll. Many individuals use credit cards to spend more than they earn, and a few of these people actually build themselves a debt prison from which some never emerge. On the other hand, those who never use credit can be denied a loan or credit when they have a justifiable need or use for it. Using credit establishes a history of financial responsibility: Until you establish a credit history, your chances of qualifying for an important loan, such as a mortgage, are greatly reduced.
Debt comes in many forms, and most types help us in our daily lives when used responsibly. Most people cannot buy a home without some financial help, and many can't buy a car without some sort of financing. The money borrowed to purchase large-ticket items is called installment debt: The debtor pays a portion of the total at regular intervals over a specified period of time. At the end of that time period, the loan with interest is paid off.
"Learn About Installment Debt" - Installment debt allows you to purchase items at a competitive interest rate: for example, 65% to 8% for a 30-year mortgage home loan and 8% or 9% for a auto loan. The loan is paid back on an amortizing schedule, monthly payments of a fixed amount that remain constant over the life of the loan. At first, most of the monthly payment consists of interest. In later years, principal begins to be paid down.
Installment debt is easily budgeted and the debt is eliminated on a predetermined date. Even for those who may actually have the cash to purchase the desired item, installment debt can make financial sense if you can earn a higher return on your investment of cash than you must pay on your installment debt.
"Learn About Revolving Credit" - A revolving line of credit, also called "open-ended credit," is made available to you for use at any time. Examples of revolving credit are credit cards such as Visa, Mastercard, and department store cards. When you apply for one of these cards, you receive a credit limit based on your credit payment history and income. When you use the credit line, you must make monthly minimum payments based on the total balance outstanding that month. Some lines of credit will also have an annual account fee.
Revolving credit is a convenient way to borrow money, but it can also become an endless way of minimum payments that barely cover the interest due. Many cards charge annual rates of interest of 12% to 29%. As you pay off your debt, the minimum payment is also reduced, thus extending your payoff period and, consequently, the interest you pay.
On the positive side, Revolving credit is very convenient, it eliminates the need to carry a lot of cash and can help establish you as a creditworthy risk for future loans. The itemized monthly statements also can help you track your expenses. But some people can easily yield to the temptation that the convenience of credit cards offers. Impulse buying, failing to compare costs, and purchasing large items you can't afford are all downfalls brought on by always available purchasing power. Spending more than you earn in any given period is a dangerous practice at best, but doing it over an extended period of time can be financial suicide.
"Learn How Manage Credit" - To use credit wisely, start by examining the terms of the card(s) you are currently using. Keeping track of your cards, their rates, and your current balances will help you to be aware of how you use credit cards. Increased competition in recent years has led some credit card companies to offer enticing features to attract new cardholders, including no annual fees and low interest rates for an introductory period.
"How to Eliminate Credit Card Debt" - If you think you may have too much credit card debt, evaluate your spending habits. Examine your existing expenses to analyze how your money is spent. You will most likely be able to identify the problem areas where you are more likely to spend too much or too readily with credit cards. Then, based on your current spending practices, create a realistic budget to pay off your credit card debt in the shortest time possible while not adding any more debt to it. For assistance, you may want to turn to your financial advisor, who can help you to allocate your resources wisely to address your credit card debt.
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