Too Much Debt? - Find out by answering these three questions

Do I have too much debt?

How much debt is too much? Use this calculator to help gauge your total debt level and what steps might need to be taken to improve your situation.

Assumptions

This information may help you analyze your financial needs. It is based on information and assumptions provided by you regarding your goals, expectations and financial situation. The calculations do not infer that the company assumes any fiduciary duties. The calculations provided should not be construed as financial, legal or tax advice. In addition, such information should not be relied upon as the only source of information. This information is supplied from sources we believe to be reliable but we cannot guarantee its accuracy. Hypothetical illustrations may provide historical or current performance information. Past performance does not guarantee nor indicate future results.

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Additional Information

How Much Debt Can You Handle?

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If you feel that you have too much debt, you are not alone. Most people have substantial debt; many have more than they can handle. However, debt is not all bad. Sometimes it makes sense to use borrowed money for investments. However, most folks are not using debt in that way; they are using it to make ordinary purchases of things they would probably be better off without, anyway. In our competitive society, spending has become a status symbol. This encourages people to spend more than they should -- more than they have. Consequently, they run up tremendous debt.

While some debt is okay, too much debt is not. So, how do you know whether you have too much debt or not? First let's look at the different kinds of debt we might incur.

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Manage Your Debt By Creating A Spending Plan, And Stick To It

If you really want to reduce your debt, the first thing you will need to do is create a spending plan, then stick to it. Your spending plan, or budget, needs to focus on paying down your debt and not adding to it. This may mean cutting up the credit cards and avoiding sales and bargains that are too good to be true. Set your primary financial goal to be out of debt in six months, a year, two, or whatever it takes. Write it down. You need to stick to this plan until you have achieved your goal.

Identify and prioritize essential expenses. Limit your spending to the bare essentials: food, shelter, utilities, etc. It may be difficult to define what is essential and what is "luxury," but if you are to get out of debt, you must be tough. Make a list of essential expenses and how much they cost on average each month. Do not forget those expenses you pay only once or twice a year, such as insurance premiums or property taxes. If you can economize and reduce some monthly expenses, do that. You may reduce utility bills by carefully adjusting the temperature in your home by raising the thermostat in summer and lowering it in winter.

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Trading Unmanageable Debt for Manageable Debt

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If you are like many people who find themselves with too much debt, you may need to consider refinancing or consolidating your loans. You might find yourself in a predicament where no matter how hard you try, you just cannot cut expenses any further or earn more income. The only solution is to lower your monthly debt payments.

There are only three ways to lower monthly debt payments: reduce the principal amount, get a lower interest rate, and extend the payments over a longer term. These three principles are used in refinancing and debt consolidation. Let's see how these work and then look at the advantages and disadvantages.

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