Debt may have become so ingrained in your life that it seems natural. Maybe your plans to pay off debt have failed and you’ve even begun to ignore it. Maybe it’s because your debt is so long term (like a 30-year mortgage), it feels like you will never be without it. It’s important, though, to stay motivated to push forward in the repayment process. This is true not only because you have a moral and legal obligation to pay, but also because facing debt will help you.
If you need some reminding, check out the following reasons that it is important for you to face and pay off what you owe whether it is credit card debt, student loans, or any other type of debt.
1. Financial Security
Debt can keep you from making the most of your money and keep you from being able to take advantage of financial opportunities or make decisions that are in your long-term best interest. If you are spending a significant portion of your income on paying off debt, this can hinder your ability to maintain an adequate emergency fund or build a retirement nest egg. (And if you need more motivation, check out what debt can cost you over a lifetime.)
2. Good Credit Score
Carrying a lot of debt can drag down your credit scores by raising your debt utilization ratio, making it difficult for you to get approved for loans, apartments and other things. It can also mean even if you get approved, you will be saddled with unfavorable interest rates and/or terms. When your balances are lowered, your debt-to-credit ratio will improve and so will your credit score. (You can check your credit scores for free every month on Credit.com to track your progress.)
3. Interest Savings
The best part about paying down your debt is that you will pay less interest down the line. Instead of accumulating more debt, you can double down and focus on paying principal. This will also allow you to later put money into savings, so instead of paying down debt you will get to use your money to make more money. That’s the kind of interest you want to see go up!
4. Relieve Stress & Guilt
Being in debt can take an emotional toll as well as a financial one. You won’t have to use your time worrying about repayments or feeling guilty about the financial steps (and mistakes) you’ve made in the past. Reducing stress may also protect you from health issues.
5. Increased Future Earnings
When you take out a loan or charge something, you are borrowing from your future income. This means that debt decreases your future standard of living and closes off your ability to use money the way you want down the line. Becoming debt-free allows you the freedom to enjoy and make choices for the income you make in the future.
Once you’ve decided to face your debt, it’s a good idea to determine a plan to attack it. For example, it’s important to determine which debts you should pay off first. However you go about it, cutting back on debt can help get your fiscal health in order to live the life you want now and in the future.
This article originally appeared on Credit.com and was written by AJ Smith.