According to the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) recent online poll, when asked what they would be most embarrassed to admit, the highest number of respondents, 37 percent, indicated it was their credit card debt. People were given five categories from which to choose. In addition to credit card debt, the options included age, weight, bank balance, credit score or none. Coming in a strong second, 30 percent of respondents indicated they would be embarrassed to admit their credit score. Since debt and credit scores can be related, it is not surprising that these two concerns earned the unenviable top two spots in the poll.
The following illustrates the relationship between credit card debt and credit scores:
►Excessive credit card debt should be seen as a warning sign that a person is in the financial danger zone. Although credit cards may appear to be the solution to a financial shortfall, charging beyond what can be repaid each month can quickly get out of control. Debts that cannot be responsibly managed may lead to late payments resulting in fees being added onto the balance and can sometimes take years to repay. Such activity is likely to negatively impact a person’s credit report and potentially result in a lower credit score.
►Typically one of the highest weighted elements of a credit scoring model is the credit utilization ratio which considers how much a person owes versus his or her available line of credit. Although lenders each have their own criteria for evaluating credit worthiness, it is smart to not utilize more than 30 percent of available credit.
“Since consumers revealed that the two facts they’d be most embarrassed to admit are related to credit, it is obvious that they are not comfortable with how they are currently managing their money,” said Gail Cunningham, spokesperson for the NFCC. “The good news is that there are solutions available for those who want to take charge of their financial future. Since April is Financial Literacy Month, now is the ideal time for people to address their financial concerns.”