What is the Debt Rule?

Debt is a part of modern life that is often necessary to achieve personal or business goals. However, it can also lead to financial distress if not managed properly.

debt rule

To avoid this, financial experts recommend following the debt rule, a simple principle that sets a threshold for the amount of debt an individual or organization can take on relative to their income or assets. 

We will explore what the debt rule is, how it works, and its benefits for individuals and organizations. 

By understanding and following the debt rule, individuals and organizations can make informed decisions about borrowing and lending, avoid excessive debt, and maintain a healthy financial balance.

The Debt Rule

The debt rule is a simple principle that states that an individual or organization’s total debt should not exceed a certain percentage of their income or assets. 

The exact percentage varies depending on the context and the level of risk tolerance of the parties involved. However, a common rule of thumb is that one’s debt-to-income ratio (DTI) should not exceed 36%, meaning that one’s monthly debt payments should not be more than 36% of their gross monthly income.

The debt-to-income ratio (DTI) is a critical component of the debt rule, as it provides a clear and objective measure of an individual or organization’s ability to repay their debt. 

The DTI compares the total amount of debt payments to the total gross income, expressed as a percentage. For example, if an individual earns $5,000 per month and has $1,500 in monthly debt payments, their DTI would be 30% ($1,500/$5,000).

The 36% threshold for the DTI is based on the idea that an individual or organization should not spend more than a third of their income on debt payments. This allows for a reasonable amount of disposable income to cover other necessary expenses such as housing, food, transportation, and savings. 

A DTI below 36% is generally considered low risk, indicating that the borrower has a manageable amount of debt relative to their income or assets. 

However, a DTI above 36% may be a cause for concern, as it suggests that the borrower may have difficulty making their debt payments and may be at higher risk of default.

The 36% threshold is not a hard and fast rule, and the exact percentage may vary depending on the context and the level of risk tolerance of the parties involved. 

For example, a lender may require a lower DTI for a mortgage than for a credit card, as the former involves a larger loan amount and a longer repayment period. 

Similarly, an individual or organization with a high level of assets or a steady income stream may be able to tolerate a higher DTI than someone with less financial stability.

What Type of Debt Does it Apply to?

The debt rule is a useful principle for managing various types of debt, as it provides a framework for assessing the affordability of different forms of borrowing. 

One of the key factors to consider is the interest rate associated with the debt. A high interest rate can significantly increase the cost of borrowing, leading to larger monthly payments and a longer repayment period. As such, it’s essential to take into account both the amount of debt and the interest rate when calculating the DTI.

For example, a long-term mortgage with a low interest rate may be more manageable than a short-term credit card debt with a high interest rate, even if the former involves a larger absolute amount. This is because the monthly payments for a mortgage are typically spread out over a longer period, reducing the amount of debt payments that need to be made each month. 

In contrast, credit card debt usually has a higher interest rate and a shorter repayment period, making it more difficult to manage.

Another factor to consider is the duration of the repayment period. The debt rule takes into account the length of time it takes to repay the debt, as longer repayment periods can increase the total cost of borrowing. 

For example, a longer repayment period for a car loan may result in higher overall interest costs, even if the monthly payments are lower. In contrast, a shorter repayment period may result in higher monthly payments but lower overall interest costs.

The debt rule is not a one-size-fits-all approach, and different types of debt may have different thresholds for acceptable DTIs. 

For instance, a mortgage may have a higher threshold than a credit card, as it’s typically considered a more significant investment with a longer repayment period. 

The debt rule should be used as a guide to help individuals and organizations make informed decisions about borrowing and lending, based on their unique financial circumstances and goals.

Benefits of The Debt Rule

The debt rule provides several benefits for individuals and organizations who follow it. 

One of the most significant advantages is that it helps them avoid taking on too much debt that they cannot afford to repay. When individuals or organizations take on excessive debt, it can result in financial stress and strain, making it difficult to meet their other financial obligations. Excessive debt can lead to missed payments, defaults, and ultimately, bankruptcy.

By following the debt rule, individuals and organizations can mitigate these risks by ensuring that they only take on a manageable amount of debt relative to their income or assets. 

This, in turn, can help to reduce their risk of default and bankruptcy, as they will have sufficient resources to cover their debt payments.

Another benefit of the debt rule is that it promotes responsible borrowing and lending practices. Both parties involved in a debt agreement are encouraged to assess each other’s creditworthiness and risk factors before entering into a debt agreement. 

This helps to ensure that borrowers are able to repay their debt obligations, and that lenders are able to recover their funds in a timely manner.

The debt rule enables individuals and organizations to plan and budget their finances more effectively. By knowing their debt obligations and their capacity to meet them, they can make informed decisions about their financial priorities, such as saving for retirement, paying for education or health care, or investing in a business. 

This can help to improve their overall financial stability and well-being, and reduce their reliance on debt as a means of financing their goals.


The debt rule is a useful guideline for managing debt and avoiding financial distress. 

By following this principle, individuals and organizations can maintain a healthy balance between their debt and their income or assets, and avoid taking on more debt than they can handle. 

While the exact percentage of the debt rule may vary depending on the context, the underlying principle of responsible borrowing and lending remains valid.

What is the Debt Rule?

Investing in the stock market can be a great way to build wealth over time. It can also be risky, especially if you don’t have a solid strategy for selecting stocks. 

good stocks

To make informed decisions and potentially maximize your returns, it’s important to have a process for evaluating stocks and determining which ones have the greatest potential for success. This may involve considering various factors such as the company’s financial health, market trends, and growth potential, among others. 

By taking the time to carefully evaluate stocks, you can increase your chances of success and build a strong portfolio that aligns with your investment goals.

Understanding the Company's Financial Health

A company’s financial health is the basis for its long-term viability and growth potential. It’s also a crucial part of evaluating a company’s management and leadership.

Regardless of the industry you’re looking to invest in, there are several key metrics that can help you gauge a company’s financial health. These metrics include current liquidity, solvency, operating efficiency and profitability.

The Balance Sheet

The balance sheet, for example, provides an overview of the firm’s assets, liabilities and shareholders’ equity at a given time. 

It’s a great way to identify the company’s assets, which could be cash, accounts receivable or inventories, and its liabilities, which would include short-term debt and long-term debt.

Debt Ratio

Another common metric that can give you a picture of the company’s financial health is its debt ratio. It measures how much of the business’s assets are funded by debt, and it helps determine whether or not your company has over-leveraged itself.

Similarly, the debt coverage ratio is a way to evaluate a company’s capacity to cover short-term debts while maintaining its own capital reserves. 

This is important because a company with too much debt may not be able to pay back its creditors or repay the money it owes to shareholders in the event of bankruptcy.

Evaluating Management and Leadership

One of the most important things to consider when evaluating a stock is the company’s management and leadership. A good management team will have the ability to plot a course for the future of the company and steer it in the right direction.

While it can be difficult to determine how good a company’s management is, there are several signs that you should look for. This includes research into the company’s board of directors, as well as the transcripts of company conference calls and annual reports.

Get a Feedback from Team Members

Another method to evaluate leaders is through feedback from team members. This can be done through a questionnaire or by having them complete a survey that has guided questions about their views of the leadership style.

Consider Leadership Evaluations

Leadership evaluations are an effective way to assess leadership skills, as well as to find areas where improvement can be made. This can help to develop stronger leadership in your organization, which will improve the overall productivity and job satisfaction of your employees.

Assessing Market Trends and Competition

Industry analysis is a crucial part of any business plan. This is because it helps you understand how much money you are likely to make, what customers will buy, and how competitive the market is.

It also allows you to identify potential opportunities for growth. If you are in the electronics industry, you may want to consider introducing new products that will boost sales.

Analyze Your Competitors' Strategies

You should also analyze your competitors’ strategies. You can do this by reading their company reports or researching what they are doing on social media.

This will help you understand their position in the market, including what they are selling and how they are marketing themselves. It will also help you know how to position yourself in the market and how to differentiate your products from your competition.

Keep Track of Market Trends

The market is constantly evolving, so it’s important to keep track of market trends. This will help you stay ahead of the game and avoid your competitors from passing you by.

Understanding the Company's Growth Potential

When you’re investing in a stock, it’s important to understand the company’s growth potential. This means looking at the company’s projected sales and earnings growth for the next few years.

This will help you determine how likely the company is to succeed. It also allows you to identify any “what if” scenarios that could negatively affect the company’s business model and growth prospects.

If you’re buying shares of a small company that is expected to grow by 20 percent over the next 10 years, that could be a sign that the business is undervalued.

It’s also possible that the company’s management is planning to move into new markets or expand their product offerings, both of which could have a positive impact on future earnings.

Having a clear understanding of the company’s growth potential will make it easier to choose good stocks.

Examining Company's Industry and Sector Performance

The best way to get a clear picture of how your company is performing is to examine it within its industry. This may require some research, but the rewards can be significant.

An industry is a subset of the economy, typically composed of several companies with similar products and services. For example, the aerospace industry is a sector that includes companies such as Boeing and Airbus.

Another common sector type is the financial sector, which features firms such as banks and brokerage houses. Often, stocks from these sectors trade in similar ways.

To find the best stock for your portfolio, you should consider both its economic and financial health as well as its industry performance. 

If your goal is to maximize your profits, look for companies with a clean balance sheet and high profits. These types of companies are much more likely to withstand a period of increased interest rates and inflation than less creditworthy competitors. This is the most important step when picking stocks for your investment portfolio.

Analyzing Technical Indicators and Chart Patterns

If you want to pick good stock, you need to understand technical analysis and chart patterns. They can help you identify potential entry and exit points and guide you towards successful trading.

Technical analysis focuses on statistical trends derived from trading activity, such as price movement and volume. It’s not the only way to analyze stocks, but it can give you a more comprehensive understanding of your chosen stock and potential investment opportunities.

A technical indicator is a mathematically derived representation of data, such as price, volume or open interest, that is used to detect stock movement and predict future price movements. 

Some of the most common technical indicators include cycle volumes, momentum readings, volume patterns, moving averages, Elliot waves, Bollinger Bands, and oscillators.

Using technical analysis to predict stock prices can be very effective, but it can also be a risky strategy. Many traders use multiple indicators in combination, but each one must be tested independently to determine whether it provides useful information. This will ensure you stay out of potentially harmful trades and prevent large losses.

Diversifying Your Stock Portfolio

Diversification is a common strategy that helps protect your portfolio from losses in the case of a market downturn. 

It also protects your investments from interest rate risk, which can hurt cash and bond returns, and geographic risk, which can affect the performance of equities and fixed income assets in specific countries or markets.

When it comes to stock portfolio diversification, there are several strategies you can use. You can diversify by investing in multiple stocks within the same industry. You can also diversify by buying mutual funds or ETFs that invest in different asset classes, such as bonds and stocks.

Choosing the right combination of investments to diversify your portfolio can be challenging. But it can help you lower your overall risk and increase your return over time.


As an investor, it is important to know what you are doing. A little research and the right tools will go a long way in helping you make the most informed decisions about the stock market of your choice. 

A savvy investor will avoid making the mistake of selecting the wrong stocks for their portfolio and instead focus on companies that are more likely to deliver a solid return over the long haul. 

The best way to do this is by taking advantage of the plethora of resources available to you, from online brokers to research institutions. 

A good starting point is to take a look at the latest annual reports of companies that are listed on the stock market, as well as checking out financial news releases and blogs.