The Good and Bad of Debt

There’s good debt and bad debt.  Good debt can allow you to acquire an asset with financial advantages more quickly than you could have enough cash saved up to pay for it.  Lots of the common forms of good debt give you a tax break.  Mortgages and many student loans are good examples.  Even a car loan can be good debt.  There aren’t tax advantages for car loans, but if having good transportation allows you to have better jobs and more flexible career options, a car loan that doesn’t overburden you financially could be a good move.

Bad debt often comes about when the debt lasts longer than what was purchased.  Your instance if you eat out a lot, charge the meals on your credit card, and don’t pay your balance off every month, that’s bad debt.  And bad debt is usually easy to spot by the interest rate you pay, too.  Mortgages, student loans, and even car notes usually have pretty manageable interest rates.  Lots of credit cards have interest rates so high that just opening the bill will give you a nosebleed.

Ending our Fiscal Fitness review with debt takes as back to where we started.  If you’re saving a portion of everything that you make, you won’t get into debt.  If you’re in bad consumer debt now, take the dual approach of beginning to save while you’re paying down your debt.  When the debt is paid off, you’ll have started the habit of saving and can supercharge your ability to sock away more for your financial goals.

About the author

Linda Y. Leitz, CFP®, EA, CDFA

Linda Y. Leitz is a fee-only Certified Financial Planner™ and has been in the financial industry since 1979. She is also enrolled to practice before the Internal Revenue Service. Before becoming a financial professional, Linda held several executive positions in the banking industry. She began her career as a bank examiner. Linda has a BBA in Business Administration from Principia College and an MBA from Southern Methodist University.
As a fee-only financial planner Linda is a member of the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors, the Financial Planning Association, the National Association of Tax Professionals and the Alliance of Cambridge Advisors. As a leader in the financial planning industry, Linda is the author of the book titled "The Ultimate Parenting Map to Money Smart Kids". She has been quoted in several national publications including the Wall Street Journal, U.S. News and World Report, and Morningstar Advisor and she has appeared on CSNBC. She also works as a volunteer instructor to new financial advisors with the Alliance of Cambridge Advisors.

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