It can be a mortgage, an auto loan, a student loan, a credit card balance, or even some debts with commercial and / or micro-finance houses.
Having debt is not a bad thing, as long as you are taking the necessary steps and actions each month to pay it off. What can cause you to have an unhealthy financial - and overall - life is having too much. If you think you might be in this situation of having too much debt, take some time to add up what you owe and decide what that number means to you.
Do you have too much debt?
One of the easiest ways to calculate how much debt you have is to determine the ratio of your debt to your income.
This figure compares your monthly payments toward debt to your monthly income. There are two ways to do this: you can calculate your debt-to-income ratio by including good and bad debt, or you can leave out the good debt (student loans, mortgage payments) and only take into account the bad debt.
If you want to measure your debt overhang, it is usually best to calculate the ratio by considering only bad debt. On the other hand, if you want a total picture of your debt, include both good and bad debt.
How to calculate it?
As an example, let's say you want to measure your overhead of debt (bad debts only). Simply add up the amount you spend each month on bad debts, i.e. credit cards, personal loans, extra-financing, commercial houses and lenders, and divide that amount by your total monthly income. Then multiply that number by 100 to arrive at a percentage. The result is your debt-to-income ratio.
For example, suppose you earn U$1,000.00 per month and spend U$200.00 on credit card payments, U$150.00 on extra-financing and U$50.00 at a commercial house. Your calculation of the ratio would be U$400.00 / U$1,000 = 0.40.
Multiply that by 100 for a debt-to-income ratio of 40%. In this example, you spend forty percent of your income on bad debt. Too high a figure.
When it comes to debt, either good or badThe lower the debt you have, the better. A debt ratio beyond 15% is too high and is often a sign that you are over-indebted. In this scenario, you would have too much bad debt because by the time you want to make an investment in a business or a house, for example, the amount of credit available to you would be too low to make it happen.
Understanding Your Total Debt
Now, if what you want - and this is something we all have to do month by month - is to evaluate your total debt picture, including good debt and bad debt, the calculation is the same as in the previous example with the only difference that you include all your debt instead of just what is considered bad or consumer credit.
To calculate your total debt to income ratio, add up your total monthly debt payments. This includes payments on credit cards, student loans, mortgage, auto credit and other loans or credit cards.
Next, sume your total monthly income, including wages, gifts, business, alimony or child support, bonuses or dividends, etc.
Divide your total debt payments by your total income, multiply by 100 and you will have the percentage of your income that you spend on your total debt payments.
Your total debt to income ratio, considering both good debt and bad debt, should be 36% or less. A ratio of less than 30% is excellent, while a ratio of more than 40% is a red flag for potential financial disaster.
If you determine that you have too much debt, you can set up a plan to reduce your debt. Not only will it make your finances easier to manage, but it will also improve your credit record so you have a better chance of timely credit when you really need it.
Don't forget that the secret of a healthy level of debt and, in general, of a healthy financial life is control: of expenses, emotions, purchases, savings and debts. If you want to have a healthy debt limit, do not forget to make a budget month by month, keep track of your daily expenses and only apply for loans that you know you will be able to pay in a timely manner and that will bring benefits to your life beyond short-term consumption.