Debt

The Challenge of Lifestyle Deflation

It’s a pretty common story. Boy (or girl) wants something. Boy discovers that there’s easy credit available. Boy convinces self that they can just pay the debt later. Boy buys that thing on credit. Boy gets more credit and buys more things. Boy starts realizing the bills and interest are drowning him. Boy decides to …

Categories: Debt

Examining Two Credit Card Repayment Strategies

Kim writes in: My dad told me that the best way to pay off a credit card is to pay it all off at once so I have been saving up the money to do that. My boyfriend argues with that saying that the best way to do it is to make the biggest possible …

Categories: Credit Cards, Debt

A Seven Year Old Learns About Credit Cards

Here’s some food for thought for those of you out there raising children and hoping to teach them good lessons about money. I was at the store recently with my seven year old son. When it’s just the two of us, he’s very quiet and observant of what’s going on around him (he can be …

Making the Rent

Financial meltdowns often start with a small thing – the figurative straw that breaks the camel’s back. I’ve read stories from readers about the many small things that have caused them to start reassessing their lives. They had a credit card rejected at an inopportune moment. They didn’t have enough cash to pay for the …

Don’t Go Into Credit Card Debt For Special Events

When Sarah and I were married in 2003, we had a fairly low-cost ceremony. We rented a local Knights of Columbus hall for the reception, utilized a lot of family help in the preparation, and the total bill was quite reasonable. The honeymoon, however, was a different story. We went to the United Kingdom for …

Categories: Debt

Thoughts on Interest Free Credit Cards and Other Debt

Karen writes in: “I have an offer from a credit card company in which they pledge 0% interest for 15 months on a balance transfer. The way they seem to do that balance transfer is that I give them an amount and they send me a check which I then use to pay off a …

Categories: Debt

The High Cost of Low-Interest Debt

Lately, I’ve seen many emails from readers asking me whether or not I think a particular debt is “okay” now that interest rates are so low. It’s true – collateralized debt for people with good credit histories has a very low interest rate right now. You can get car loans and home loans for stupendously …

Categories: Debt, Getting Started

The Case for Debt Freedom

A couple times a week, I’ll get an email from a reader asking some variation on this question: If I can refinance my house at 3.5% why would I ever want to pay it off early if I can earn 7% over the long term in the stock market? Debt freedom seems like a bad …

Categories: Debt, Getting Started

A Different Way of Thinking about Your Debts

If you take out a $200,000 loan for 30 years at 4.5% interest, how much in debt are you? Some might argue that you’re only $200,000 in debt. However, when you look at the payments you’ve committed yourself to making over the years, you’re actually promising to make payments totaling $364,813.20. Thus, I’d argue that …

Categories: Debt

Retirement Planning: Contributions & Debt Repayment Tips

A few weeks ago, I put out a call on Twitter and on Facebook for detailed posts that people would like to see. I got enough great responses that I’m going to fill the entire month of July – one post per day – addressing these ideas. On Facebook, Tyler wanted to know, “Should I …

Categories: Debt, Retirement

Improve Cash Flow By Paying Off Low Interest Debts

Quite often, when I write answers to reader mailbag questions, I encourage people to keep pushing hard against their debts no matter the interest rate. Almost everyone agrees that it makes sense to rapidly pay off the 15% debts, but I’ll often get a lot of disagreement about the 3% debts. People will often ask …

Categories: Debt, Getting Started

A Little More Than the Minimum

Carolyn writes in: For the longest time, I’ve been making larger than minimum payments on all of my debts. I got the idea from Suze Orman because she said that if you just make minimum payments, you’ll never get rid of debt. I have two credit cards and a student loan. Here are their interest …

Categories: Debt

Debt and Marriage: Sharing The Burden

You’re in a relationship. That relationship is starting to get serious. You’re contemplating marriage or some other form of long-term commitment. Now what? Quite often today, people are bringing significant debt into relationships with them. Credit card debt. Student loan debt. Auto loan debt. I often get emails from readers asking me how to deal …

Categories: Debt

You Need To Cut Your Spending. It Sounds Painful. Now What?

You’ve realized (finally) that you’re in a precarious financial situation. You’re spending more than you earn – sometimes quite a bit more. You’ve racked up a fair amount of debt. Now, you’re seeing that some changes are going to have to happen in your life, but those changes sound utterly painful. What do you do? …

Some Notes on Filing for Bankruptcy

A reader who asked for anonymity wrote in: I’m visiting a lawyer next week to get started on filing for bankruptcy. I have no way to pay my debts or even make the minimum payments each month. My problem is that I simply can’t find a place online that actually explains what the different kinds …

Categories: Debt, Getting Started

Car Finance: The Math on Why You Should Pay Cash for Your Next Car

Quite often, I get emails from readers asking about car finance. What is the “best” way to purchase a particular car that they want? They have their eye on some new model and want me to essentially tell them that it’s okay to purchase it. When Is It Ok To Finance A Car? I rarely …

Categories: Automobile, Debt

APR, APY, and Mortgage Math: A Real World Example

I have lots of readers here in the central Iowa area, so it came as no surprise to me that when I began hearing an ad frequently on local radio advertising a particular mortgage product in terms that were a bit on the confusing side, I received an email about it. Jim writes in: I …

Categories: Debt, Housing

Pay Cash or Not? Cash Flow Versus Liquidity

Let’s say, hypothetically, I have $50,000 in cash just sitting in my savings account. I need to replace my car and I’ve decided on a model that costs $20,000. I can get a very low interest loan for that car from the dealership – 0.0% or 2.9% or something like that. What do I do? …

Categories: Debt, Getting Started

Why a Zero Percent Auto Loan Isn’t Always the Best Choice

Brian writes in: I was at a local car dealership looking for a replacement for my truck. I only have about $8000 in savings so I knew I would have to take on some debt to buy. The dealer offered to sell me a new F150 for a good price and a zero percent auto …

Categories: Debt