Debt, like most things, is okay in moderation.  Too much and an unpleasant conversation with a bankruptcy attorney might just be in your future.  Too little or none and you might be hampering your ability to get a college loan or a mortgage for your new Crown PointDyer, or Schererville home.

Here are a few debt tips with links where you can get more information:

  1. Cash cushion.  Have a little extra cash on hand, in the bank, under the mattress (no, not really under the mattress).  This is for emergencies, not for that little black dress or movie tickets.  Life happens.  Cars break down, water heaters break down – things break down.  Have some emergency cash available so your finances don’t go into a tail spin when the unexpected happens.
  2. Know your spending habits, then break bad habits.  Do you really know where your money is going?  Really?  Are you stopping by Starbucks once a week or is it really closer to every day of the week?  How often do you eat out?  What does the final tally on your Friday and Saturday nights look like?  Take a look at that monthly credit card bill.  You might be surprised.
  3. Pay down debt with highest interest rates first.  Makes sense.  Whatever money you have to pay down debt should go toward the credit card with the highest interest rate.  Once that is paid off, start paying extra on the next highest, and so on.  This is the best way to shrink those ugly credit card balances.  But remember, minimum payments are not your friend.  You’ll have to do more to get rid of that debt.
  4. Learn more.  Start at the CNN Personal Finance web page for great ideas on improving all aspects of your financial life.