4 Types of Debt You Gotta Know (+5 Tips to Borrow Responsibly)

Debt can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it can help you achieve your financial goals faster and more efficiently. On the other hand, when you have it, you’re working for a creditor, not just yourself. Which means your goals will take longer to reach. 

Which is why it’s important to understand the different types of debt available to you.

So in this article, we’ll explore how to manage debt responsibly and the 4 kinds of debt you need to be aware of, including the pros and cons of each.  

handle debt responsibly pinterest

Key takeaways
1. Regardless of the type of debt you have, manage it responsibly in order to avoid steep interest payments and damage to your credit score

2. Not all debt is created equally, know what you’re signing up for!

3. There are four main types of debt: secured, unsecured, revolving, and installment

How to handle all types of debt responsibly

Before we get into the types of debt, I want to offer a few quick tips for handling debt responsibly:

  1. Pay on time and at least the minimum monthly payment
  2. If you can, pay more than one a month, even if it’s just the minimum split in two
  3. If you struggle to keep up with your payments, be proactive and let the creditor know. They will often work with you to lower your monthly payments
  4. Sell it if you can’t afford to keep it
  5. Instead of buying with credit, wait until you have enough cash to purchase outright

Warning: If you fail to pay your bills, your assets aren’t the only things at risk. You could also destroy your credit score, be harassed by debt collectors, or incur an avalanche of interest. So do your best to stay current. 

4 types of debt you need to know

Not all debts are created equal. Some types of debt can be beneficial, while others can be financially harmful in the long run. 

The next sections discuss the various types of debt and their characteristics, so you know what you’re signing up for before going into debt.

Secured debt

Secured debt is backed by an asset, also known as collateral, such as your house or vehicle. If you cannot repay the loan, the lender has the right to seize the collateral and use it as repayment. 

secured debt

As a result, you don’t actually own the items until the debt is paid off, so it’s like you’re renting someone else’s stuff. 

A secured loan may be easier to obtain since lenders feel they can recoup their losses should the borrower default. This confidence makes lenders more likely to approve a loan or credit card, often at a lower interest rate. 

Examples of secured debt

  • Security and application deposits made when renting an apartment 
  • Mortgage debt
  • Auto loan
  • Pawnbrokers

Pros & cons of secured debt

You may be approved to borrow higher amounts since the debt is less risky to the lender

May be easier to qualify if you have a bad credit score or no credit history
If the value of the asset used as collateral does not equal the value of the loan, you may have to pay the remaining balance in cash if you are unable to pay off the debt

Cash received from secured debt is often restricted to an explicit item rather than a lump sum of cash

Unsecured debt

Unsecured debt is based solely on the ability of the borrower to make payments and is not tied to collateral. 

unsecured debt

When someone takes out unsecured debt, they do so at their own risk of defaulting and will be held accountable for whatever funds are borrowed and not repaid. As such, you’ll want to make sure the payments are included in your budget. This way, you can get rid of your debt while also putting extra money towards savings or other financial goals.

Examples of unsecured debt

  • Student loan debt
  • Medical bills
  • Most credit card debt
  • Payday loans

Pros & cons of unsecured debt

No collateral, so you won’t lose any personal property as a result of not making payments, nor do you need to have something to be able to get the loan in the first place

May be a quicker application process
Higher interest since it’s riskier for the lender 

Often requires higher credit than with a secured card because it’s riskier for the lender

Revolving debt

Revolving debt is open-ended, allowing you to borrow, repay, and re-borrow repeatedly.

revolving debt

With revolving debt, you are given a spending limit, the maximum amount of money you can use. However, interest generally accrues on any remaining balance if not paid in full each month, so it’s key to be aware of how much interest could accumulate over time when taking out revolving credit.

Examples of revolving debt

  • Credit card debt
  • Personal lines of credit
  • Home equity loan

Pros & cons of revolving debt

Keeping up with your payments is hugely beneficial to your credit score as it shows you can borrow and repay responsibly 

You don’t have to reapply every time you need money so that you can cover unexpected expenses
Monthly payments vary according to how much you owe, so it may be hard to budget for

May have a lower limit than if you went with another type of debt

Installment debt

Installment debt is a set amount paid back over a set period, typically in equal monthly installments. So you’re paying both the principal and the interest at the same time. 

installment debt

Installment debt can be a helpful tool if you need cash for something specific, as it typically comes with lower interest rates than credit cards. Because of this, installment debt is often used to purchase large items that would be otherwise unaffordable if charged to a high-intrest credit. 

Examples of installment debt

  • Personal loan
  • Home renovation loans
  • Car loan
  • Student debt

Pros & cons of installment debt

Payments are the same amount every month, which makes them easy to budget for

You can often get a higher credit  limit
Typically end up paying more than you borrow, thanks to interest

Easy to fall into more debt since, on the surface, it looks like you only have to make a small monthly payment

Get familiar with the different types of debt to get your finances in check

Debt is a powerful financial tool that can be used to achieve personal and professional goals. However, it is important to understand the different types of debt and their characteristics to avoid falling into financial traps. Individuals can use debt responsibly and wisely to improve their financial health and achieve their long-term goals.

P.S. Join the waiting list for my free masterclass on taking the first step to lifestyle autonomy without extensive knowledge of personal finance or already having heaps of cash in the bank. 

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