Budgeting Managing Your Debt 10 Signs You Have Too Much Debt How to Know If Your Debt is Too Much By LaToya Irby LaToya Irby Facebook Twitter LaToya Irby is a credit expert who has been covering credit and debt management for The Balance for more than a dozen years. She's been quoted in USA Today, The Chicago Tribune, and the Associated Press, and her work has been cited in several books. learn about our editorial policies Updated on July 12, 2021 Reviewed by Anthony Battle Photo: fizkes / Getty Images If you're struggling to make debt payments or your payments are so high that you can't accomplish much else, you may have too much debt. Even if you can manage your payments, having too much debt can lead to other financial problems like not being able to save money, missing bill payments, and having to borrow more money just to stay afloat. Here are a few signs you have more debt than you can handle. 01 of 10 You Don't Know How Much You Owe © Claus Christensen / The Image Bank / Getty Hiding from your debt doesn’t make it go away. In fact, if you’re purposely ignoring your debt, you may suspect that you have more debt than you can handle and you’re simply afraid to face up to it. Pull a copy of your credit reports and your most recent account statements from your creditors to make a list of your accounts and the current balance. This will tell you the exact amount you owe. 02 of 10 Lack Of Money Leads to Late Payments If your debt payments are higher than your income, it's a sure sign that you have too much debt. Not having enough money for your monthly payments means you miss payments from time to time, which makes your debt problems worse. Paying late triggers late payments and higher interest. Taking a close look at your monthly spending can help you figure out what you can eliminate to better afford your bills. 03 of 10 Dodging Phone Calls From Bill Collectors When debt collectors start calling you, your debts have become delinquent and probably unaffordable. You may be able avoid debt collector phone calls for awhile, but don’t underestimate your creditors and debt collectors—they may decide to sue you for what you owe. If the creditor wins the lawsuit, they may be able to get court permission to garnish your wages or levy your bank account. 04 of 10 Borrowing Money to Pay Back Your Debts If you have to pay your bills with loans from family, friends, credit cards, or cash advance places, you have too much debt. You'll eventually run out of places to borrow money and you'll have to face the debt you've accumulated with your creditors and your loved ones. Note Reducing your bills or increasing your income will make it easier to afford your expenses without having to borrow money. 05 of 10 Losing Sleep Over Financial Worries Are you so worried about your bills that you can’t sleep at night? Do you toss and turn fretfully wondering how you’re going to pay the bills? That’s a sure sign that your debt has gotten out of control. Debt-related stress can lead to other medical problems. Making a plan to deal with your debt can eliminate stress and in some cases, literally save your life. 06 of 10 Your Finances Affect Your Work Performance When your financial woes spill into the workplace, it’s time to do things differently. Losing your job is the last thing you need right now because a loss in income could put you over the financial edge. 07 of 10 You've Drained Your Savings The absence of savings itself doesn’t always mean you have more debt than you can handle. If you drained your savings trying to pay off your debt or to make ends meet, that’s when you know there’s a problem. Note Not having access to savings puts you at risk of increasing your debt in the event of a financial emergency. 08 of 10 You Look for Ways to Escape Financial Stress Many people use drugs and alcohol to avoid facing up to their debt. The high cost of drugs may have even contributed to your debt. Getting treatment for substance abuse will be one of the first steps you have to take if you want to get out of debt for good. 09 of 10 You Need Credit to Survive When you have to buy groceries with a credit card, it’s a sign of a deeper issue – you don’t have enough money to sustain your lifestyle. You may not make enough money at all or you could be mishandling the money you are making. Either way, you have to figure out how to survive on the income you make or increase your income. 10 of 10 You're Hiding Your Spending If you can’t be honest with your loved ones about your debt, chances are you have too much of it. You may even hide it because you’re afraid they’ll stop you from spending, which might be a sign of that you’re addicted to debt. Note If your debts habits are beyond your control, consider getting help from Debtors Anonymous is a twelve-step program for people who want to stop incurring unsecured debt. Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Tell us why! Other Submit Sources The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "What Should I Do if a Creditor or Debt Collector Sues Me?" Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. "Financial Stress and Its Physical Effects On Individuals and Communities." Pages 1-3.