How Financially Independent Are You?

If you are a working adult who is responsible for paying his or her own bills, you probably consider yourself to be financially independent. And while you may have ended your dependence on your parents a long time ago, if you are relying too heavily on credit to get by, you are not quite ready to declare yourself financially independent. If you struggle in this area, a Fee-Only financial advisor can help you design a plan to lessen your reliance on credit and stand on your own feet in the future.

On its website, U.S. News and World Report asks “Are you in over your head?” and provides an online tool to help you figure out how what you owe compares to your income.

If your debt-to-income ratio is more than 50%, you need to get some help with financial planning so you can take immediate steps to reduce your debt. However, if the results of the online tool show that your debt-to-income ratio is 36% or lower, U.S. News and World Report says, “this is a healthy debt load to carry for most people.”

It is difficult to be completely debt free and often once you have finished paying off one debt, you may find that you take on other debt (e.g. paying off a car and deciding to purchase a home). The key is to not have so much debt that you are overwhelmed and have little room in your budget for savings and investing.

While U.S. News and World Report says, “The more you make, the more debt you can afford to take on,” you need to be careful about the kind of debt you acquire. In order to be financially independent in a culture that often relies on credit, you need to consider your goals, your situation and your need for financial security as well as the happiness that can come from knowing that you and your family have options for the future.

About the author

Claire Emory, MBA, CFA, CFP®

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