How to Avoid Common Debt Traps
Debt can one of the most disruptive forces in the average family or individual’s financial life. For many of us, it is a reality that we are able to handle and even use to our advantage, but when it gets out of control it can take almost everything from you.
It’s important to ever be aware of the different debt traps out there, and you might be able to avoid them. Here, we take a look at some of the most common sources of debt and what to do when they rear their ugly heads.
1. Losing Track
Sometimes, it’s easy to simply lose track of your spending and find yourself with more expenses than you can afford to pay. You may start to miss bills, loan repayments, and more, causing debt to keep building up.
The longer you remain unaware or avoid tackling debt head-on, the worse the situation gets. Most lenders, for instance, might be willing to help you renegotiate and change your repayment plan to make paying them back more affordable.
However, trying to keep your head down is the worst thing you can do. Start getting in touch, let your creditors know that you’re having trouble paying, and re-budget to create a debt repayment plan.
2. Low income
When you’re simply not making enough money, trying to make room in your budget can feel like an impossibility. When you’re unable to downsize anymore or to reduce your expenses anymore, you might feel like you have no options.
Underemployment is a serious predicament and one that isn’t easy to solve. While you can make extra money on the internet with the help of sites like The Thrifty Issue Side Hustles you need to think of a long-term strategy.
Does your employer offer any opportunities for further training? If you’re stuck in a dead-end job, is it time to switch career tracks? When underemployment is the leading cause of your debt, you need to put the focus on building your career for a time.
Of course, things can be even worse than when you’re underemployed. When you suddenly lose your job, whether you’re made redundant, fired, or unable to work due to illness or injury, it can become a real crisis.
Your incoming funds drop to zero while your expenses keep rolling. The best way to deal with unemployment is in advance.
While you still have a job, ensure you’re budgeting aside some of your money towards the creation of an emergency fund. It can vary from person to person, but your fund should be enough to cover from three-to-five months of all expenses.
There are, of course, state benefits that can offer some help, but an emergency fund can help you keep your home and avoid going into debt while you look for employment.
4. Medical Expenses
As mentioned, sometimes, injury or illness can be the reason you’re no longer able to work. Some employers offer some form of paid cover for employees put out of work by health difficulties, but none of them are obligated to.
Sudden medical expenses can be highly expensive on their own. But when they endanger your livelihood, it’s important to stand up for yourself. Check to ensure the expenses are accurate and not inflated, negotiate and know your rights.
If injured at work, get professional advice. This way you can ensure they pay not only for any treatment or damages caused, but also the money you would miss out on earning due to their fault in the first place. Don’t foot the bill for something that wasn’t your responsibility.
5. Lack of protection
Health insurance can help you cover some medical expenses, of course, when it’s not someone else’s fault. Just as home and contents insurance can stop an electrical fault, fire, or flood from destroying some of your most valuable possessions.
A significant portion of the population is underinsured. When aiming solely for cheaper insurance, you might be missing the specific levels of coverage that you actually need. Check which insurances you need, but take a closer look at the different packages.
Compare them to make sure that you’re not missing any of the clauses that you are most likely to rely on in the future. You can even insure your income so that you’re not forced to rely on an emergency fund if you lose your job.
6. Reliance on credit cards
This point is tied into the idea of “losing track” as mentioned right up at the top. When credit cards are involved, it’s a lot easier to lose track.
When you use them for everyday expenses, little costs can add up over time. A lot of people neglect to check their credit card balance when checking their standard bank balance, too.
Credit cards make impulse spending a lot more accessible, too. If you have a credit card, you have to learn to be responsible with it and start noting down every single expense, keeping your interest rate in mind.
If you’re unable to track your credit card spending reliably, it might make more sense to simply cut it up.
7. Having your details stolen
Just like being injured, sometimes your descent into debt can be entirely out of your hands. Identity theft is becoming more and more common, with thousands of details being stolen every month.
Financial details can give thieves direct access to your bank account, while personal details and your ID can let them sign you up for costs that you’re entirely unaware of.
There are several steps that go into making sure your details are as protected as possible. Never write down any details such as PIN numbers and passwords.
Switch the passwords you use on different sites with the help of password manager software. Shred any documents that you don’t file that contain personal information.
There are a lot of ways that people can steal your identity, so you have to take a lot of protective measures, too.
Most debt can be avoided by being aware of the risks. Some, however, can hit you unexpectedly and you need to know the right steps to take once they do. Hopefully, the tips above help you navigate the debt-filled minefield a little better.