Manage your debt

Today, debt is almost a fact of life. Most of us borrow to pay for our cars and houses, and nearly everyone has at least one credit card. But credit’s convenience can easily lead to spending more than you earn. Knowing when and where not to use credit – and what type of credit to use –can help you avoid getting in over your head.

There are two major types of household debt: installment and revolving credit.

  • Installment debt is paid off in a specified period of time with predetermined periodic payments. Conventional mortgages are the best example.
  • Revolving credit is a line of credit that is instantly available, usually through credit cards. As you pay down your debt in a revolving line of credit, the minimum payment is also reduced, which can extend your payoff period and the interest you pay.

Installment debt is excellent for big-ticket purchases and is easily budgeted. Compared with revolving credit, interest rates are usually relatively low.

Revolving credit, however, usually carries higher interest rates. Credit cards are a convenient way to buy virtually anything at any time, but you need to use them intelligently and be aware of the interest costs.

Next in the series

Set aside an emergency fund
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