10 Brutally Honest Ways Too Much Debt is Ruining Your Future

Too much debt can affect more than just your bank account.
Updated May 1, 2024
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Is your debt taking over your life?

Debt is certainly a convenience, and for some things, like home ownership, it’s a necessity. And some level of debt probably isn’t a problem, like your home mortgage or a credit card that you make regular payments on. But too much debt can be overwhelming, with the potential to crush your current finances and ruin your financial future.

When you're drowning in debt it can feel difficult to find the right money moves to financially get by. So before you take on more debt, here are some ways that too much debt could be ruining your future.

You can’t change jobs

Seventyfour/Adobe man shaking hands with female manager

Debt obligates your paychecks, which means you may not be able to quit a job, even if you hate it, in order to pay your bills and repay your debt. And it may be difficult to find a new job because you’re spending long hours working… in order to pay off debt.

Potential employers may require a credit check before they will hire you, and that could work against you if you have a bad credit score due to significant debt, indicating that you are not as financially responsible as you should be.

You can’t afford a vacation

NDABCREATIVITY/Adobe beautiful girls looking for direction in the city

Everyone needs a break to take some time away from work and reset. Even a staycation or a few days to relax at home can be helpful. When you're in debt, you can find yourself in need of ways to find extra income just to get by and can forget about that vacation.

If you’re in too much debt, you won’t be able to take time off if it means losing those working hours and the income they bring. And you can’t go anywhere if being able to afford even a short vacation is out of the question.

You can’t save for retirement

bernardbodo/Adobe senior couple planning for a vacation

Debt doesn’t just affect your money now but also your financial future.

Money that goes toward paying off debt is not going into savings. That means you won’t be saving money for retirement or taking advantage of matching funds from your company’s 401(k) plan. It may not seem like an issue now, but you’ll be that much further behind later on, and you may have to keep working longer because you didn’t save enough — and save early enough — for retirement.

You can’t live where you want to

BalanceFormCreative/Adobe couple carrying big cardboard box at new home

You may want to live closer to your office or perhaps you want an apartment with a little more space for a guest bedroom or remote office.

But too much debt can restrict your budget when it comes to how much you can afford to spend on housing each month. You may have to stay where you are, or even move to a cheaper place, with less space and a longer commute, or in a less desirable area, because your debt is weighing you down.

You don’t qualify for a loan

crizzystudio/Adobe home loan contract with customer

You may want to buy a new home now that prices are starting to go down. Or perhaps your car lease is up and you need to replace your car.

Unfortunately, too much debt can be a red flag for a bank, financial institution, or mortgage broker looking over your financial situation. And even if you do qualify, the loan may come with restrictions or a high interest rate.

Your credit score is sinking

peshkov/Adobe Checking credit score

Debt can weigh down other things besides your monthly budget: your credit score could also tank under that extra debt.

Your credit score will likely be used not only by potential lenders but also by employers and landlords. A low credit score due to too much debt will make it hard for you to get a credit card, a loan, a job, or an apartment.

It’s hurting your health

Yakobchuk Olena/Adobe employer having pain in back

You may not realize it, but the stress of debt can hurt your health. You may develop physical issues because the stress is running down your immune system. Debt could also take a serious toll on your mental health. And you need to be physically and mentally healthy to keep earning and eventually pay down your debt.

It’s important to reduce your stress from debt to help you both physically and mentally. And even though you may be struggling, you should also remember to reach out to health professionals to get the help you need. Putting off health issues for financial reasons could compound the cost to get better later on.

You’re drowning in stuff

Gang/Adobe messy room

So why are you in so much debt? One reason may be overspending on things like clothes, furniture, electronics, and more.

That stuff, however, adds up and can create clutter in your home, your office, your car, and other places you try to store it. If you’re trying to find a clever way to eliminate debt, it may be time for you to sell some of these items with the intention of using any money you get back to pay off your debt.

Interest is added to your debt

Pormezz/Adobe sad woman looking at many credit cards

Debt comes with an interest expense that, if not paid, is usually added to the money you owe. Some credit cards may charge interest for bills you haven’t paid and loans could tack on additional fees or a rate increase if you don’t pay them back.

It’s important to knock down your debt as soon as you can to avoid creating even more debt. Those debts with high rates or high penalties may be the debts you’ll want to try and pay off first.

It damages your relationships

Delmaine Donson/peopleimages.com/Adobe sad woman upset after argument

Debt causes stress in your life, and it’s impossible to keep that out of your relationships. It could lead to the breakup of a romantic relationship or cause strain between you and your family and friends.

It’s important to be honest with a partner about how much debt you have. And do your best to handle the situation yourself before asking others like friends and family for help.

Bottom line

Rawpixel.com/Adobe couple managing the debt

There are ways to start climbing out of your financial hole.

Think about ways you can start to cut down on your debt now, such as creating a budget to help get your spending under control and make sure those debt payments are met every month. You may want to consider using your tax refund to pay off your debt.

Debt is a financial tool, but like any other tool, it must be used wisely. Borrowing can seem so convenient and so harmless, and at times it really is necessary, but debt can also get you into real trouble too. Knowing where the pitfalls lie can help you to avoid bigger problems later on.

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Author Details

Jenny Cohen Jenny Cohen is a freelance writer who has covered a bit of everything, from finance to sports to her favorite TV shows. Her work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and FoxSports.com.

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