Warning Signs of Too Much Debt

A longstanding rule of thumb holds that monthly payments on debts (not including a home mortgage, which is really more of an investment) shouldn’t exceed 20 percent of take-home pay. The closer you get to that 20 percent ceiling, the greater your risk of over-indebtedness. Rules of thumb can be useful, but don’t count on this one to keep you out of trouble. It says nothing about your total... Continue reading

Personal Finance Turnaround: Debt Management Resources

Personal Finance Turnaround: Debt Management Resources The most courageous step you can take to improving your financial health is admitting that you need assistance with managing debt. According to Certified Consumer Credit Counselor Natasha Wyckoff, "One of the positive aspects of a fluctuating economy is that you and other consumers have similar challenges." In other words, you are not alone... Continue reading

Debt Management Programs: Pros and Cons

Credit can be a wonderful thing. For example, credit cards are safer and more convenient than carrying cash, particularly when you are traveling. But too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. Downturns in the economy, or even poor financial management, can result in out-of-control debt that leaves you with too much month at the end of your money. You might consider entering a debt management... Continue reading

Budgeting Conundrum: What Are the Benefits of a 401(k) Loan to Pay Off Debt?

Your 401(k) plan is designed to help you save for your retirement. Anytime you take money out of the account, you're depleting your long-term savings. To discourage you from accessing the funds early, the Internal Revenue Service taxes and penalizes withdrawals before retirement age. However, if you have a short-term emergency need for funds, you may be able to avoid these costs by taking a 401(k... Continue reading

Filing Bankruptcy and Its Effects on Personal Finances

Filing Bankruptcy and Its Effects on Personal Finances Bankruptcy can create havoc with your finances, but you can recover. Filing bankruptcy has been called the "nuclear option" when it comes to personal finances, because it creates dramatic and far-reaching effects. However, while the word "bankruptcy" still carries a stigma in some circles, in many cases it is the right financial move. If you... Continue reading

Live Debt-Free

To hear the media tell it, Americans are basket cases when it comes to borrowing. The average credit card balance per person is nearly $4,000. College grads who leave school with student loans typically owe more than $19,000. Home foreclosure rates are soaring and threatening the economy as a whole. The truth is, most Americans manage their credit just fine. And for those who are sinking in red... Continue reading

New Year Financial Resolution: Pay Down Debt

Paying down debt can be a life-altering New Year's resolution -- if you actually carry it out. Often, best intentions are not enough. To successfully reduce your debt levels, you can employ tools and strategies to make the job easier. The rewards for paying down debt include more money for discretionary spending or saving, improved credit scores and an ego-boosting sense of accomplishment. Begin... Continue reading

Save or Pay Down Debt

Should you be putting money in savings or investments at the same time you're paying off a loan? That's one of the most frequently-asked questions we get, and the answer isn't always obvious. Even if you have run up a balance on a high-rate credit card, you may hear a nagging voice in your head urging you to keep plowing money into savings for retirement, college for the kids or a new home. The... Continue reading

You Are Not Your Setbacks: How to Recover From a Troubled Financial Past

Life is unpredictable. Financial setbacks can befall anyone, but with hard work, planning and discipline, recovery is possible and often achieved. Along the way to recovery, you might develop different attitudes and goals -- ones that lead to happiness and fulfillment in unexpected ways. A Budget Is Your Buddy   Your first step to financial recovery should be to take stock of your situation and... Continue reading

How to Handle Debt

How much debt is too much? It depends. That's not the answer you wanted, perhaps, but it's the only sensible one: It depends on how easily you can repay the money and what you borrowed it for in the first place. The stories below will help you realize whether you've taken on too much debt and, if so, how to get it under control. If you're too far in over your head, we also explain the basics of... Continue reading