FINANCIAL LITERACY

Dancing With Debt

Joseph A. Davis, CDFA®

May 4, 2017

After age 30, you are expected to really begin thinking about not only your own future but the future of your children as well. Appropriately named, Generation X-ers are at the crossroads of life and often have to care for growing children and aging parents simultaneously.

Because of this sandwiching it becomes more important than ever to manage, and hopefully reduce, debt – credit cards, student loans, auto loans and now mortgages – to allow for adequate income budgeting that can provide for all the members of your family while saving for your own future retirement.

According to Experian’s’ Generational Credit Trends Report, Americans age 30-46 have 42 percent more overall debt than other generations. And while this age group has likely been out of college for close to a decade, they still have 14 percent more student loan debt than the national average.

“You should pay off all your credit card debt as soon as possible to avoid continually paying high interest rates and fees.”

With an average student loan balance of about $28,500, and a total average debt balance of $111,121, it can be difficult to worry about saving for the future when you’re still paying for the past. And while there is still much debate over what is more important when it comes to saving for retirement: steadily increasing your nest egg or paying off debts; one thing is certain, you should pay off all your credit card debt as soon as possible to avoid continually paying high interest rates and fees.

The average 30-46 year-old has $5,343 in credit card debt, and this age group also makes the highest amount of late payments. This amount accounts for a lot of wasted money between interest and fees. Also, revolving debts such as credit cards have a more negative impact on your credit score than installment debts. Student loans and automobile loans may make up a larger portion of your debt, but they also typically have lower interest rates than credit cards. These loans are also typically fixed amounts that need to be paid-down, while credit card debt can easily increase overnight with the unconscious swipe of a card.

“While it may seem better to charge now and pay later, you could easily end up spending twice as much on credit card bills and interest overtime.”

While the majority of Generation X debt is with a mortgage, this is typically viewed as a positive debt. Mortgages usually have lower interest rates and the interest is often tax-deductible, so while you pay to borrow the money for your home, you often save on your tax bill later. You should always pay your mortgage payments on time, but paying off excess mortgage debt should typically become a focus after all other debts have been eliminated.

While it may seem better to charge now and pay later, you could easily end up spending twice as much on credit card bills and interest overtime. By paying off your credit cards followed by installment debt, besides your mortgage, you can avoid wasting money on high interest rates and will have more money available to pay for future dreams, for you and your family, debt-free. If you or someone you know needs help balancing debt reduction with saving for the future, contact our office today for a consultation or review.

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