Credit Card Debt and Your Health
Carrying high credit card debt month to month can have a negative impact on your finances. Credit cards have some of the highest interest rates on the market today, making it more difficult to get out of debt. Carrying around credit card debt can also negatively affect your health. This kind of debt can lead to increased stress and anxiety. If you have credit card debt, learn more about how it can affect your health and what you can do to pay it off.
How Does Credit Card Debt Affect Your Health?
Credit card debt isn’t the same as other forms of debt such as student loans, mortgages and auto loans. Credit cards come with high interest rates, usually 10% or more, which is why it’s important to pay off the balance as soon as possible. If you miss a payment or carry around debt for months, the effects of compound interest can make your debt grow, making it that much harder to pay off.
Credit card interest rates may change over time, making your monthly payments harder to predict, which can be a source of added stress.
New research shows that carrying credit card debt in adulthood can lead to a decline in physical health, including muscle pain and stiffness. It can also lead to poor mental health with high rates of anxiety and stress. These health conditions can interfere with everyday life and can make it harder for some individuals to keep or get a job. This may make it harder for a person to pay their debt and meet other financial obligations, leading to a debt spiral.
Credit card debt has other effects that may lead to poor health outcomes. Examples of the impact of debt are the potential inability to pay for healthcare, medications or even budget for a nutritious diet. Skipping doctor’s appointments or preventative care can also increase the risk for various health conditions, including cancer, stroke, and heart disease. Credit card debt can also make it harder to afford stress reducing activities such as exercising, vacationing and spending time with loved ones, which all influence health and wellness.
Having credit card debt can also negatively affect your credit score. A lower credit score may make it more difficult to get approved for a rental application, mortgage or car loan
Five Tips for Managing Your Credit Card Debt
Use these tips to manage your credit card debt:
- Pay Off the Card with the Highest Interest Rate First
If you are trying to pay off multiple cards or debts at the same time, focus on paying off the card with the highest interest rate first. This is what’s known as the avalanche method. Check the interest rate for each card or loan to find the highest rate. Make the minimum payment each month on all your other cards and debts and put all your extra money towards paying off the high-interest debt first. This approach can help prevent interest from compounding, reduce the amount of interest you’ll pay overall and can help you get out of debt more quickly.
- Knock Out One at a Time
If you don’t like the avalanche method or all your cards have the same interest rate, the snowball approach may work better for you. Instead of putting all your extra money towards the card with the highest interest rate, focus on paying off the card or loan with the smallest balance first. Make the minimum payment every month on all your other cards and put all your additional money towards the card the with the lowest balance until it’s repaid. Then put all your extra money toward the card with the next smallest balance and so on until all your debt is paid off. Some people like the immediate joy that comes with paying off debt quickly.
- Avoid Paying for Healthcare with a Credit Card
If possible, avoid paying for medical care with a credit card. The balance will continue to accrue interest every month, making it harder to pay it off. If you can’t afford medical care, contact your provider to arrange a solution. Most hospitals and facilities offer a low-cost option for low-income patients and those without insurance. Research the facility online to learn more about these programs. They may also accept less than the full amount if you agree to continue making payments in installments.
- Contact a Professional for Assistance
Dealing with credit card debt can be stressful and a challenge for many people. If you need help managing your debt, contact a credit counselor or budgeting professional at a non-profit that can help you make sense of your options. They will go over your financial situation and provide resources to help you pay off your debt as soon as possible.
- Use a Debt Management Plan
If you have a lot of credit card debt, a debt management plan may be your best way out. A DMP rolls all of your debts into one repayment plan. Lenders will usually reduce the interest rate to help you get out of debt faster. In exchange, you must make regular monthly payments for the next three to five years.
Don’t let your credit card debt have a negative effect on your health. Learn how to get out of debt to help improve your financial, physical and mental health.