- Your credit card balances keep rising. It’s best to pay credit cards in full every month. Next best is paying enough to whittle down balances over time. If your balances are growing, your financial worries are, too.
- At least one credit card is maxed out. There’s one exception: Don’t count a balance-transfer card you’re using for debt consolidation — provided you have a plan to pay it off while the interest rate is in the low introductory period.
- You can’t pay more than the minimums on your credit cards.
- You can’t afford to save for an emergency fund. Emergencies happen, so you need at least a small reserve to cover them. If a car repair would mean you couldn’t cover your regular bills, something needs to change.
- You’re late paying bills because you didn’t have enough money on the date they are due.
- You applied for credit and were rejected. That means creditors or card issuers see reason to believe you can’t or won’t repay money you borrow.
- You’re getting offers for credit cards for people with damaged credit — and you thought you had good or excellent credit. That’s a sign that something is tanking your credit.
If any of these apply, it’s time to take an honest inventory of your debt.