Chapter 1: Understanding your debt

Americans are debtors, not savers, so it's important to understand your debt and learn to manage it.

To learn to manage your debt, begin by using our debt load analyzer to see if you've already got too much to handle. Next, learn that not all debt is bad -- but you have to learn how to use the "good" debt in your financial plan. Finally, we'll look at the top 10 reasons why people are in debt. Some of the situations are unavoidable -- like losing your job or unexpected medical expenses -- but all can be managed with proper planning.

What you can expect to learn from this chapter:
  • Debt load analyzer
    This step-by-step questionnaire will help you determine if you've got too much debt to handle.
  • Good debt vs. bad debt
    All debt isn't bad. Some types such as a mortgage or school loan are considered good. See why different kinds of debt are good or bad.
  • Top 10 causes of debt
    Ranging from underemployment (and high expenses) to divorce and gambling, there are many reasons why people go into debt. Learn about them here.



Show Bankrate's community sharing policy
          Connect with us
Credit cards on a table

Get advice for managing credit cards, building your credit history and improving your credit score. Delivered weekly.

Debt Adviser

3 easy ways to rebuild your credit

Dear Debt Adviser, Two years ago, I requested my credit report. It was not a good sight to see. Thankfully, I have cleaned it up to the best of my ability. I have paid off all my debt. I do, however, have one big problem.... Read more

Partner Center

Connect with us