Being deep in debt isn’t just a threat to reaching your financial goals or having a happy personal relationship, free of arguments about money.
Excessive debt can also seriously hold you back in the job market or pursuing a career that is your true passion.
Here are 3 careers you can’t have if you’re deep in debt.
1. You can’t enter religious service
This one really shocked me. But imagine that you want to become a priest, religious brother or maybe a nun — because you’ve felt called to spiritual service and want to be more devoted to God and to help others.
Now pause for a moment as you consider this reality: your debt could totally derail those altruistic plans.
That’s right. An increasing number of people seeking to join religious communities – including would-be nuns hoping to join convents – are being turned away simply because they have too much debt.
This recent Huffington Post profile of Mary Beth Baker, a 28-year old woman who wanted to become a nun, describes how she was told she’d have to first pay off her $25,000 in student loans.
Baker subsequently started a FUNDLY crowd-funding campaign to raise the bucks needed to pay off her college debt. She’s still working on it, and also plans to sell her car and other possessions to reduce those student loans.
But it’s a shame that it’s even come to that. And Baker isn’t alone.
A 2012 National Religious Vocation study revealed that 69% of religious organizations surveyed had to turn away applicants because of outstanding student loans.
“For those entering religious life, the expectation is that they be debt-free but for graduates in today’s economy, where education costs have risen by 900 percent since 1978, paying off loans can take years to accomplish,” Paul Bednarcyzk, executive director of the National Religious Vocation Conference, said in the study.
“The burden of student debt has become a serious problem for religious communities desirous of welcoming younger members,” he added.
2. You can’t serve in the military
If you want to be a soldier, being ready for active duty entails more than just being trained and physically fit. You also have to be financially fit – and that means avoiding an excessive amount of debt.
Why do your debts matter? It’s simple.
The government doesn’t want you to be distracted in the field, unable to fully concentrate because you’re worried about paying the bills. The feds also don’t want you to be at risk of extortion and blackmail attempts or perhaps enticed into wrongdoing (like selling U.S. secrets) just because you’re cash-strapped, debt-ridden and broke.
If you’re already enlisted, you may not get booted out of the military right away, but being deep in debt can threaten your government security clearance. It’s a problem for scores of servicemembers right now who owe everything from hefty payday loans to big credit card bills.
And how does the military handle those deep in debt who want to enroll?
Back in 2008, the military imposed tougher financial rules on would-be servicemembers.
So it doesn’t matter if you rock it out on your physical, and pass the military admissions test – called the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery – with flying colors.
If you have lots of debt and financial problems, you simply won’t make the cut.
The Coast Guard has the strictest rules, requiring you to have a debt-to-income (DTI) ratio of less than 30%. That means your monthly debt payments can’t total 30% or more of your month gross income.
As a result of this DTI requirement, the Coast Guard now turns down 25% of otherwise qualified applicants due to those individuals’ debt and credit woes.
The Army, Navy and Marine Corps are slightly more lenient and evaluate people on a case-by-case basis. They typically only run credit checks when an applicant needs a security clearance. They also do credit checks of servicemembers who seem to be economically trouble or who require a dependency waiver. That waiver is necessary for servicemembers with three or more dependents, such as a spouse and two kids.
Bottom line: big debts and bad credit can thwart any hopes you had for a nice, long military career.
3. You can’t obtain certain financial services jobs
According to the Society for Human Resources Management, an increasing number of employers are checking people’s credit ratings before deciding whom to hire. In fact, about half of all U.S. employers do employment-based credit checks on some or all employees as part of the hiring process.
This probably doesn’t come as a surprise, but you’re more likely to be subjected to a credit check – and an evaluation of your financial standing – for jobs where you’d have to handle customer funds or the employer’s money.
So jobs like bankers or bank tellers, brokers, accountants might all be off the table for you – or at least much harder to get – if you’re deep in debt. Companies generally don’t want to take a chance with an indebted employee possibly stealing customer assets or taking money from the corporate coffers.
Is that kind of thinking fair? It’s debatable. Nevertheless, that’s what employers are thinking when they come across job applicants with major debt issues.
Even if you pay your debts on time (most likely by making minimum payments), high levels of credit card debt negatively impact your credit rating. That threatens all job seekers in all industries – not just those involving finances and money.
So the next time you think about financing an expensive new car, taking out enormous student loans, or running up massive credit card bills, stop and think whether those actions just might be hurting your job and career prospects.