News Feb 21, 2024 01:34 PM EST

How Much Debt is Too Much Debt?

By Isaiah McCall

Imagine you're at a sartorial New York city loft party with tons of bougie hipsters and someone asks, "So, how much debt do you have?"

It's not exactly the type of question that sparks lively conversation, is it?

(Photo : Getty Images) Bad Credit

That said, how much debt your in is an essential question.

Let's face it, debt is like that uninvited guest at the party that refuses to leave. So, how can we determine if we've got too much of this unwelcome guest hanging around?

The Rule of Thumb: Debt-to-Income Ratio

Financial experts often use the debt-to-income ratio to assess whether one's debt level is within a reasonable range.

To calculate this, divide your monthly debt payments by your monthly gross income. If you're pulling in $4,167 per month, for example, any debt below $188,500 would be considered reasonable.

However, if your debt exceeds 43% of your income, it might be time to wave the red flag. This is the point where you might need to consider debt relief options. Now, don't panic! This doesn't mean you need to sell your beloved collection of vintage vinyl records. It just means you might have to reevaluate your financial habits.

The Warning Signs of Overbearing Debt

There are several signs that your debt might be getting out of hand. One clear indicator is if you're having trouble paying your bills. Another is if your total payments for non-mortgage debt exceed 15% of your income.

Take my buddy, Dave, for instance. Dave was always the life of the party ... of those New York City hipster parties. A total loser. Yet he never shied away from picking up the tab, and had an affinity for flashy gadgets. But soon, his love for the high life caught up with him. His credit card bills started piling up, and he found himself juggling payments and maxing out cards. Dave was a textbook case of someone carrying too much debt.

How to Manage Your Debt

So, what should you do if you find yourself in a similar situation? Don't fret! There are always ways to get back on track. The key, as financial advisors often suggest, is to decrease discretionary spending or increase income.

In Dave's case, he decided to take up a part-time job and cut down on his weekend extravaganzas. It wasn't easy, but it was necessary. He also sought advice from a nonprofit credit counseling agency. They helped him devise a plan to manage his debts without compromising too much on his lifestyle.

The Bottom Line

To sum it up, how much debt is too much really depends on your specific financial situation. However, generally speaking, if no more than 36% of your gross monthly income goes towards debt, you're in a good place.

Remember, having debt is not necessarily a bad thing. It can help you make significant purchases, like a home or car, and even boost your credit score if managed wisely. But just like that party guest who overstays their welcome, too much debt can become a nuisance. So, keep an eye on your finances, look out for the warning signs, and don't hesitate to seek help if needed.

Related article:Core Inflation Holds Steady at 3.9%, But Headline Rate Rises as Housing and Energy Bite

Copyright ©

Real Time Analytics