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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.

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Credit 101

An important part of personal finance is how you manage your debt. Ideally, you would not have any debt, but in practice, most families do. It is not likely that most persons would be able to buy a car, a house, an education, or even major appliances without having to incur some debt. Sometimes, debt may actually be desirable, especially if you could borrow money at a low interest rate to make a high-interest investment.

Debt makes everything cost more. If you saw a sign in a store window advertising "Sale -- Everything 25% Off," you might be tempted to rush in and buy, buy, buy. But what if the sign said "Sale -- Everything 25% More Than Marked"? That is just what happens when you pay for goods and services using debt. Moreover, you may be using debt without even realizing it.

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5 Ways to Create a Budget That Works

In personal finance, you set financial goals so you can plan your budget around those goals. After all, they are your priorities, aren't they? Here is how financial planners work with budgets:

A budget has two main components: cash coming in (inflows) and cash going out (outflows). If you subtract the outflows from the inflows, the answer should always be zero. That is called balancing the budget.

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How to Conquer Credit Card Debt

While credit is very important to the economy, its abuse is harmful. Credit is extended with the faith that borrowers will repay the debt. Goods and services are provided on credit with the expectation that they will be paid for with money in the future. Credit makes commerce more convenient. When credit is abused, everyone loses. Credit abuse increases the cost of credit to everyone.

One should never use credit to purchase things for which one will not be able to pay in the future. Many impulse purchases are made on credit with little thought given to how the debt will be repaid in the future. If one calculated the true cost of goods bought on credit, one would have second thoughts about making the purchase in the first place. Here is an example: a new television flat-screen HDTV model retails for $5,000. If purchased on a credit card with a 12% annual percentage rate (APR) compounded daily, and with minimum monthly payments of $166 paid over three years, it winds up costing over $5,980. Is it worth almost $1,000 more to have it now (furthermore, the retail price in 3 years will probably drop)? That is like going into a store that advertised "SALE--ADD 20% TO EVERY PURCHASE."

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Money Help Center
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. This service shall not infer that the company assumes any fiduciary duties. In addition, such service 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.