The sensible use of debt should be part of any sound financial strategy. Debt can enable you to enjoy things that otherwise are beyond your current reach. Borrowing can also have its ugly side. Too much, too expensive, or the wrong kind of debt can make life miserable.
Borrowing costs money. That is not necessarily bad. It just means that when you pay it back, you have to pay more than you borrowed. The components of a good debt strategy are quite simple:
A good credit record does more than just make future credit approval easier to get. Most lenders use your credit record to determine credit limits and what rates to charge. A good credit record will save you money. Some websites enable you to get a free credit report once a year so you can know your own credit record. You can request your free report at the website – www.annualcreditreport.com. Otherwise for a small fee you can order a report from one of the three large credit reporting agencies.
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Take action immediately if your borrowing is getting out of control. If credit cards are the problem, stop using them or even cut them up. Contact lenders to develop a workable repayment plan. A qualified credit counselor can help.
Comparing credit cards can be confusing. You have to consider interest rates, fees, and associated benefits. The right card for you should reflect how you use it. If you pay the full balance monthly, the interest rate is of little concern. Focus on any annual fee and benefits such as rewards (air travel or cash back features). If you carry over balances, the interest rate should be a top concern.
The right mortgage for you should balance interest rate, length, and down payment requirements to fit your situation. Adjustable rate mortgages usually have lower rates, but your payments may increase. Long-term mortgages usually lock in a higher rate. If you expect to stay in your current home only a few years, an adjustable rate mortgage may be best. If an increase in monthly payments would be too painful, look at a fixed rate mortgage or an adjustable one with rate adjustment limits.
Being conservative in your use of borrowing can help you take control of your financial future. Borrowing for the right reasons and living up to your repayment responsibilities can make borrowing a useful financial tool.