Most people in the U.S. are living with some type of debt looming over them. In 2016, American household debt, including mortgages, home equity loans, credit cards, student loans and auto loans, reached a staggering $12.58 trillion. The average household alone carries about $134,643 in debt.
But how do you know when you have more debt than you can handle? Even if you can afford all of your monthly payments, you could still be putting added strain on your finances if you have too much debt. What’s more, is when too much of your budget goes to unnecessary debts, you can’t afford to build wealth or plan for your future.
If you have concerns you may be living beyond your means, here are five telltale signs it’s time to reevaluate your spending habits:
1. You’re not even sure how much you owe
If you don’t know how much debt you have, you likely won’t see how it fits into your budget. It may also be a sign you know there’s a problem but do not want to face it.
2. You don’t have any savings
If you find it hard to find money to save each month, your debts may be preventing you from building an emergency fund. Only about half of Americans today have more emergency savings than credit card debt.
3. You’re only making the minimum payments
If you can only afford the minimum payments on your credit cards, you’re likely headed for trouble. Not only does this make escaping credit card debt more complicated, it also makes your debt more expensive with hefty interest charges.
4. You have at least one credit card near or over the limit
If you’re nearing the maximum amounts allowed for your lines of credit, you may be relying too much on your credit cards to support your lifestyle. Nearing or maxing out your limit also hurts your credit score.
5. You’ve been denied credit
It’s in the best interest of creditors and lenders to lend money to applicants who are likely to pay it back. Too much debt usually leads to credit denials because lenders may not have faith in your ability to pay.
It can be hard to admit that you may be living beyond your means but living in overwhelming debt is much harder. The sooner you realize you’re in over your head, the sooner you can start to make positive changes to your finances.