Debt is dangerous, and it affects consumers significantly. Whether it’s student loan debt that costs students tens of thousands of dollars or more following graduation or consumer credit card debt, there is no such thing as good debt. Debt weighs heavily on the financial future of all consumers. It’s used to determine how much a consumer can borrow from a lender, and it affects every decision a consumer makes. Whether someone wants to buy a home and finds they cannot afford one due to high interest rates because of their credit score or they can’t qualify because they have too much debt, debt is a problem for most Americans. Learning to manage debt is imperative, which is why learning to stay out of debt is the most important thing consumers can do.

Create and Stick to A Budget

The easiest way to stay debt free is to create a budget and stick to it. No matter what, be sure your budget is always on track. Track your income, expenses, payments, and your finances each month. Update the budget regularly when it’s time to make some changes, and find ways to save where you can. Sticking to the budget involves allotting for gas and groceries, and even entertainment so you never go over the budget.

Use Cash

Leave your credit card at home. Use cash when you go out. The best way to stick to the budget and stay out of debt is to use cash. If you take cash into the supermarket to allot for all the items on your list and leave your cards and checkbook at home, you’re less inclined to spend more than you budgeted for. You won’t have the cash to pay for additional purchases, so you won’t put those items in your cart and spend more than you budgeted.

Pay Off Credit Card Balances in Full Each Month

There’s nothing wrong with using your credit card. It’s a great way to keep your credit score high, and it’s a great way to earn cash back or miles or other rewards your card company offers. As long as you’re able to pay the balance in full each month, there is no reason you cannot use your card as often as possible.

Pay Yourself First

Staying out of debt is easier when you have a savings account. Rather than saving what’s left after you spend, save first. Make your savings account a monthly expense, and pay that bill first. You will be grateful you’ve learned to do this when the time comes to get your finances on track.

Don’t Buy What You Can’t Afford

It’s a simple solution to keep consumers out of debt, yet it’s one many people forget about. If you cannot afford to pay cash for something right then and there without sacrificing another expense or bill, you cannot afford it. By not purchasing items you don’t have the cash to purchase, you keep yourself out of debt. It’s a nice feeling to own things that are nice and luxurious and on your wish list, but it’s nicer to live everyday with financial security.

Check Your Finances Daily

Don’t let a day go by without checking your bank account, your finances, and what’s clearing in your accounts. This allows you to see where you’re going over-budget or where you’re making mistakes. Sometimes it’s easy to use your debit card on a coffee here, gas there, dinner one night, and lunch the next day without realizing how much you’re digging into the budget. Check daily to keep yourself on track.

Hold Only One Credit Card

If you want to stay out of debt, keep only one credit card. You don’t need five or six cards since you’re not using them. This can be just as true for this young ones who start collecting all this student credit cards as soon as they start school. Choose the one that makes the most sense for your finances, and use that card only. You can use it as often as you like so long as you pay it off in full each month. Keep this card alone in your wallet, and it will help you stay on track as far as your finances are concerned.

Debt is a major problem for Americans. The average household carries approximately $16,000 in just credit card debt. This doesn’t count cars, loans, or mortgage payments. It’s time to get your finances in order and get out of debt while staying debt free.