Sunday, April 22, 2012

Make Becoming Debt Free a Priority

In their quest to pay off debt, some people neglect other important goals, such as saving for significant events like buying a home, going to college, or saving for retirement. Without a well thought out debt management plan, individuals might opt to pay off the wrong kinds of debt, leaving themselves with little flexibility in times of financial need. Information and a clear assessment of your situation can help you make the best choices for your family to ensure long-term financial stability and prosperity. Understand that debt in and of itself is not bad. It is an essential tool for building wealth, reaching your financial and educational goals, and living a comfortable life. Most of us could not afford a home or finance a college education without taking on debt. Used sensibly, debt can help you survive a job loss, buy a car, or even start a business. Debt can also give you the flexibility to seize opportunities you might otherwise have to pass up.

Debt without a doubt has a place in our world today. The key to strategic debt management is differentiating between good debt and bad debt, as well as maintaining a balance. Mortgages, student loans, and borrowing to start a business are usually considered good debt. Most other debt is considered bad. Good debt can help position you strategically for the future if you don't go overboard. Bad debt usually involves short term, spontaneous purchases that give you very short-term satisfaction.

However, too much good debt can have the same negative effect as too much bad debt. Until recently, lenders have been more than happy to help finance whatever house or education dreams you might have, without regard for the practicality of repayment. People assumed, erroneously, that banks wouldn't lend more than they could comfortably afford. We know now that assumptions about the future are not always true and individual circumstances can change on a dime. The reality is that you need to know your own debt limits based on your individual situation and goals.

Ultimately, being debt free is a good thing. However, managing debt intelligently can give you the cash flow you need to grow your long-term wealth. Living debt free is not practical for most people today. But, you can manage your debt so it actually improves your financial future. To accomplish this, individuals need to pay off the bad debts first and cut the costs of the debt you keep. From now on, vow to keep your debt from getting out of hand and get smarter about all debt you acquire.

So refrain from putting those latte's and designer clothes you don't really need on your credit card. Pay those balances off as quickly as you can - always pay more than the minimum required. Only use cash for short-term purchases. Don't neglect saving for retirement and a rainy day. Pay off first your bad debts, then start on the good debt. Do all those things and one day you just might find yourself sitting in the exclusive debt free club.

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