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Avoid These Major Money Missteps and Stay Out of Debt

Written by Dian Herdiana on 9:46 AM

What you can do to avoid getting into debt? Experts say there are certain money missteps that many of us are likely to make. Here are the major money missteps that can easily land you in debt. These are very common missteps that many of us fall into without even knowing it.

Buying a new car

OK, this is not so much a money misstep (unless you really can’t afford a new car, or finance it with a high interest rate) as a preference that can easily get you into debt. Sure, you love that new car smell, the feeling that you are the one adding up the miles, but it is a known fact that new cars depreciate several thousand dollars as within the first year. Save yourself all that money that you’re paying for the privilege of the new car smell and buy a high quality pre-owned vehicle. Many used cars still carry the original warranty—even more incentive for buying a quality used vehicle.

Borrowing from your 401(k) or 403(b)

In most cases, you won’t get a great deal at all. Your 401(k) deals are pre-tax, which means that eventually the money that you put in will get taxed when you withdraw it. Taking out a loan from your 401(k) or 403(b) means that you will be borrowing from pre-tax dollar which will eventually have to be repaid. When you eventually retire and begin your withdrawals, you will be taxed again. If you borrow money from your 401(k) or 403(b), you will effectively be getting taxed twice. Did you know that you are also required to repay the loan in only a few months? If you don’t happen to have the money for repayment, your loan will be treated as a withdrawal. You can expect a whopping 10 percent early withdrawal penalty.

Using your home equity line of credit to pay off your credit card debt

You can lose your home if this doesn’t work out. Credit card debt is often described by unsecured debt, because there’s no real collateral that the credit card company can force you to sell in order to collect on the debt. A home mortgage and home equity loan is known as secured debt because your home is the collateral. But if you fall behind your payments, the lender can easily require you to sell your home in order to collect on the debt.

Avoid buying a variable annuity

When you buy a variable annuity you are making a contract with the insurance company and the money is used to buy mutual funds. Salesmen may try to pitch this kind of investment as a way of buying and selling funds inside the annuity without the tax bills as long as the money is invested. But did you know that you will have to pay income tax on any withdrawals? Plus, if you withdraw any money from your variable annuities before you are approximately 60 years of age, you will also be penalized with a 10 percent fee. So watch out for what may seem like a great deal on that tempting variable annuity. There are often many buried fees that are attached to variable annuities. Make sure to read all the fine print.

Do not finance your new home purchase with a variable interest loan

Avoid those low initial teaser rates for financing your new home. If you can’t afford the home otherwise, you should probably not buy the home. Avoid option adjustable rate mortgages too. This will usually cause your loan balance to become bigger each month as the lender adds the unpaid interest on the balance of your home loan. Watch out for those great introductory rates—they can often turn out to be not-so-great.

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