I’ve written in the past about whether or not there is such a thing as “good” debt. While that’s always a question that is up for debate, one thing is for sure: there are definitely types of bad debt. Many financial experts will be able to give you a pretty long list of ways people fall into debt that just aren’t worth it at all, and you’d be surprised at how common some of these happen.
Consider some of the following common ways that people fall into debt, and whether or not they apply to you:
- Leasing or financing a car – When you choose to lease a car, you’re basically spending a few hundred dollars a month for a car that isn’t technically yours, and that you’ll return after a couple years. When all is said and done, you may have spent tens of thousands of dollars simply to put yourself in debt. Along the same lines, many people purchase cars that they can’t afford and choose to finance them, thinking that will help. But it won’t!
- Credit card debt – This is the easiest way that many people fall into debt. They think, “I can’t afford this now, but I can pay it off later.” This is a dangerous line of thinking, and with high interest rates you could wind up paying twice as much for a product that you couldn’t afford in the first place. Many people also fall into the trap of making minimum payments on their credit card bills, but eventually the interest catches up with them.
- Upgrading – This might surprise you, but many people put themselves into debt just by combining a whole bunch of little expenses that add up over time. Upgrading your phone plan to a more expensive one, paying an extra few dollars for different memberships, upgrading your devices to the newest technology even though they still work… we live in a society that emphasizes always being “new” and the “best,” but this can wreak havoc on your bank account if you’re not careful.
- Paying the wrong bills – The general rule of thumb is that you need to pay your high-priority bills first, like those for your home or car. Don’t just pay the ones that are more convenient; if you go that route, you’ll quickly fall into debt. Many people also fall into debt because they blindly pay their bills rather than even looking at what they owe. Keep track of the bills that you’re paying and see what you can do to decrease your expenditures.
These are merely a few of the common ways that people fall into debt. Do any of these apply to you? Can you think of other ways you’ve seen people fall into debt?