The debt-to-Income (DTI) ratio is a financial measurement used to evaluate an individual’s ability to repay their debts and is a crucial part of your overall financial health. It’s calculated by dividing the total monthly debt payments by the total monthly gross income. The result is expressed as a percentage. Why does this matter?
Why Your Debt-to-Income Ratio Matters
Keeping your DTI ratio at a moderate level signals that you’re a responsible manager of your debt, which can improve your credit score and eligibility for financial products. A general rule of thumb is to keep your overall debt-to-income ratio at or below 43%.
It shows how balanced your spending plan is and assesses your creditworthiness.
A ratio below 43% is seen as a wise target because it’s the maximum debt-to-income ratio at which you’re eligible for a Qualified Mortgage —a type of home loan designed to be stable and borrower-friendly. A DTI ratio of 43% or lower is generally considered ideal for most borrowers. The borrower’s debts, including mortgage payments, credit card payments, car loans, and other debt obligations, should be at most 43% of their monthly pre-tax income. If the DTI ratio is higher than 43%, it may indicate that the borrower is overextended and may have difficulty paying debt obligations.
Keep in mind that the DTI ratio is just one factor that lenders use to evaluate loan applications. Other factors, such as credit score, employment history, and assets, are also considered.
Less Favorability in your Spending Plan and Borrowing Terms
When a significant portion of your income goes towards paying debt, you have less left to save, invest, or spend on things you want and need. Additionally, if you have a high debt-to-income ratio, you will be seen as a riskier borrowing prospect. When lenders approve loans or credit for risky borrowers, they may assign higher interest rates, steeper penalties for missed or late payments, and stricter terms.
A debt-to-income ratio over 43% may prevent you from receiving a qualified mortgage, limiting you to approval for home loans that are more restrictive or expensive.
And although it Is used a lot in qualifying people for mortgages, it can be used to manage money and debt better. As interest rates increase, decreasing and lowering your debt burden becomes more critical.
Different Types of Debt-to-Income Ratios
There are two main types of DTI ratios – front-end ratio and back-end ratio. The Front-end DTI ratio calculates the income percentage used to pay housing expenses, such as mortgage or rent payments. The back-end DTI ratio considers all debt payments, including housing expenses, credit card debt, student loans, and car loans.
Importance of Debt-to-Income Ratio for Loan Approval
A low DTI ratio is a positive sign for lenders, as it may indicate that borrowers have the financial stability to repay their debts. A high DTI ratio can signal to lenders that borrowers may struggle to repay their debts and may be at a higher risk of defaulting on their loans. As a result, lenders may only accept loan applications or offer more favorable terms to borrowers with high DTI ratios.
How do you Calculate the Debt-to-Income Ratio
- Add up your monthly debt payments (rent/mortgage, student loans, auto loans, and monthly minimum credit card payments).
- Find your gross monthly income (your monthly income before taxes).
- Debt-to-income ratio = your monthly debt payments divided by your gross monthly income.
Here’s an example:
You pay $1,900 a monthly for your rent or mortgage, $500 for your car loan, $300 in student loans, and $400 in credit card payments—bringing your total monthly debt to $3100.
Your gross monthly income is $6,500.
Your debt-to-income ratio is 3,100/6,500, or 47%.
A Debt-to-Income Ratio of 36% or Less
A debt-to-income ratio of 36% is considered a good debt-to-income ratio. With a DTI ratio of 36% or less, you have a healthy monthly income to put towards investments or savings. Most lenders will see you as a safe bet to afford monthly payments for a new loan or line of credit.
DTI Ratio and Credit
Credit reporting agencies don’t collect consumers’ wage data, so a debt-to-income ratio won’t appear on your credit report. Credit reporting agencies are more interested in your debt than income history. Although your credit score isn’t directly impacted by your debt-to-income ratio, lenders or credit issuers will likely request your income when you submit an application. Just as your credit score will be one factor in their application review process, your debt-to-income ratio will also be considered. A high DTI ratio can hurt a person’s credit options as it can indicate that they are overextended and may struggle to repay their debts. A low DTI ratio can help improve credit options as it shows that a person is financially responsible and able to manage their debts.
Improving your DTI Ratio
If you have a high DTI ratio, you can take steps to improve it. This can include paying down debt, increasing income, or a combination of both. Reducing monthly debt payments by paying off credit card debt or negotiating lower interest rates can also help improve the DTI ratio.
By regularly monitoring your DTI ratio, you will identify areas where they can reduce debt or increase income to improve their financial stability.
The DTI ratio also provides you with a good snapshot of your current financial health. If it’s below 36%, you’re in a good position to take on new debt and pay it off with regularity. But when it’s over 50%, you should try to reduce the number of debt obligations (by either working to pay off credit cards, find a more affordable home, or refinancing your current loans) or find ways to generate more income. When your DTI falls between 35% and 50%, you’ll usually be eligible for some approvals. Even so, your financing terms on lines of credit will be better if you hit the premium level of sub-35% debt-to-income.
The DTI ratio is useful for individuals to assess their financial situation and determine if they are overburdened with debt. It’s also a valuable tool for lenders to evaluate the creditworthiness of loan applicants and determine the risk of loan default. Maintaining a low DTI ratio can help individuals improve their chances of being approved for a loan and ensure that they are in a better position to repay their debts, and ensure they are on a path to financial security.
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