Most everyone deals with money troubles at some point. However, according to American Consumer Credit Counseling (ACCC), a non-profit group, many people may be headed toward financial disaster without even knowing it.
To help determine if you’re in danger of serious financial problems, ACCC offers eight telltale signs:
1. Not paying your bills on time (or at all). Paying your bills late leads to extra charges and can have a significant impact on your credit score. Some companies will even increase your interest rate after just one late payment. Missing bill payments altogether is a big problem–it’ll kill your credit score. Additionally, after three missed mortgage payments, some lenders will start the foreclosure procedure.
2. Struggling to make minimum payments. In most cases, the minimum monthly payment goes toward interest, not principal. Moreover, if you’re struggling to pay the minimum, you probably have way more debt than you can handle.
3. Relying on credit cards too much. Credit scores are partially calculated by your credit utilization. Consequently, being at or over your credit card limit will have a serious impact on your credit score and could lead to denied loans. If you use your credit card to make payments on other bills, you’re playing a high-risk game. Plus, you’ll end up paying more overall because of the credit card interest you accrue.
4. Taking cash advances out on your credit cards. While it may seem like an easy way to get fast cash, taking out a cash advance on your credit cards is a bad idea. Cash advances on your credit card usually come with a transaction fee and are typically subject to significantly higher interest rates.
5. Getting denied credit. Being refused credit is a red flag that you’re on the verge of a personal finance emergency. If you’re denied, it most often means your credit score is extremely low and the company views you as too high of a risk.
6. Living beyond your means. We all know that we should be saving a little each month, and there’s no way you can save if you’re living paycheck to paycheck or, worse, spending more than you earn. Struggling to make ends meet or being in the red month after month is very stressful and can cause major financial problems, especially if an emergency occurs.
7. Dipping into savings or retirement. People dip into their savings and retirement funds for a number of reasons ranging from medical expenses to mortgage loan distress. While pulling from these sources may seem like a good option in the short term, the long-term impacts can potentially be devastating.
8. Tossing out bills. They say ignorance is bliss, but ignoring bills will only lead to heartache. Throwing your bills away before opening them is a clear sign that you’ve given up. While opening the bills may cause you stress, it’s not too late to get a handle on your finances.
By catching these warning signs now, you may be able to avoid serious financial trouble. You can also research and find trustworthy resources available to help you get back on track.
This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as professional or legal advice.