Debt is dangerous. 8 in 10 people have some form of debt, and many will die having never paid it off. That kind of stress and financial instability is something to avoid at all costs. If you’re currently debt-free, you’re in a good place, and you should do everything in your power to stay that way.
Staying out of debt is much easier than paying it off, and it starts with a few simple mindsets. If you’re interested in staying debt-free for life, consider the following solutions. Each one will help you stay on top of your income, no matter its size.
It’s nearly impossible to get through life without some loans. Most people have to mortgage a home, and nearly everyone has to take out student loans in order to complete college. Wherever possible, however, you should be aiming for no loans, or low loans. Don’t finance a car–save until you can buy it upfront. Instead of going to an expensive school, look into online education programs. Avoiding loans is the first and most important step in avoiding debt. Loans can add extra pressure to your monthly paycheck, and unless you start making six figures straight out of college, your loans will take a long time to pay off.
Buy Reliability, Not Flash
If you’ve got dreams of cruising around town in a sports car, or living in an enormous McMansion, you might want to reconsider that dream. If you can actually afford one or the other and still have money to spare–go for it. But a flashy car will often be less reliable than a standard car you bought at your Northhampton, MA Ford dealership, and many cookie-cutter houses, despite their “rich” feel, may be poorly constructed. Go for something you know will last and require less upkeep. You’ll avoid debt if you spend your money wisely, since sudden car repairs or homes that require extra maintenance can throw your paycheck for a loop. Simple is often better–so consult with an accountant about what kind of home and car you can actually afford right now.
Use Credit Cards Wisely
Credit cards are convenient, nearly universal, and many provide great perks on the side, like gift cards options or Amazon points. There’s no reason to avoid credit cards altogether. There’s every reason, however, to not spend money you don’t have. Budget carefully and know exactly what you have to spend each month. Feel free to use your credit card for a payment, but with the mindset that you’re spending existing money from your bank account. Pay off your card religiously at the end of every month. Never go over, and never be late. If you use your credit card wisely, you can enjoy the benefits and simplicity of credit cards without getting into trouble.
Debt is something to avoid at all costs, and the simplest way to avoid it is to live within your means. You could finance a flashy car or mortgage a home you can’t really afford–but your future will be brighter and your stress levels lower if you avoid debt altogether.