Good Debt vs. Bad Debt: What is The Difference?

In the world of personal finance, the terms good debt and bad debt are often thrown around, creating a dichotomy that may initially seem confusing. Not all debts are created equal, and understanding the difference between good and bad debt is crucial for making informed financial decisions. 

Good debt, often seen as an investment in your future, can pave the way for wealth accumulation, while bad debt can become a financial burden hindering your progress. In addition to financial health, debt can also influence one’s mental health. According to data retrieved from the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada, 48% of Canadians share that they have lost sleep because of financial worries. This includes various sources of stress, one being the need to deal with high debt levels.

The key to differentiating between good debt vs bad debt is exploring their definitions, various types, and most importantly, how to navigate the complex terrain of borrowing wisely. GoDay is known for being a trustworthy and safe online lender offering loans to Canadians from coast to coast, so we see the value of differentiating between the two types of debt. Use the following guide to learn about examples of good and bad debt and make informed borrowing decisions. 

What is Good Debt?

A common concern when seeking funds is, is there such a thing as good debt? Well, the simple answer is yes. Good debt is an investment in your financial future. Unlike bad debt, which tends to be frivolous and offers no long-term value, good debt is incurred for purposes that can potentially yield positive returns. 

Types of Good Debt

After getting familiar with the definition of good debt, exploring examples of good debt before borrowing money is essential. Here are some types of good debt to consider.

Mortgage Loans

Mortgage loans are a classic example of good debt, and they come with their set of advantages. They enable individuals to own a home, which can appreciate over the years. 

Student Loans

Education is an investment in oneself, making it another one of the key good debt examples. When used wisely, student loans can pave the way for higher earning potential and career advancement.

Small Business Loans

When considering good debt examples, keeping small business loans in the mix can be helpful. Entrepreneurship often requires capital to start or expand a business. Taking out a loan for a viable business opportunity can be considered good debt, especially if it leads to increased income and growth. 

Real Estate Investments

Investing in real estate beyond personal homeownership, such as rental properties, can be an example of good debt. Rental income and property appreciation contribute to long-term financial gains. When seeking funds for real estate investments, you can use GoDay’s efficient loan service and find out if you’re approved within minutes. Our automated system will help you streamline the borrowing process, and if approved, you will receive the funds within the next business day.

Debt Consolidation Loans

Although debt consolidation requires you to borrow money, it can be a strategic financial move, making it one of the key types of good debt. By consolidating high-interest debts into a single, lower-interest loan, individuals can streamline their repayments, potentially saving money on interest and simplifying their financial management.

What is Bad Debt?

Once you get familiar with examples of good debt, it’s important to understand bad debt. Bad debt is incurred for items depreciating rapidly or having little to no lasting value. It often involves borrowing money for non-essential, short-term pleasures that do not contribute to long-term financial well-being. 

Types of Bad Debt 

To avoid financial stress, it’s essential to understand the definition of bad debt, learn what is considered bad debt, and try your best to avoid it.

Credit Card Debt

Although credit cards can be helpful financial tools, they can also be an example of bad debt when used excessively. According to an Equifax Canada report, during the second quarter of 2023, credit card balances in Canada reached a record-breaking $107.4 billion, indicating a growing financial strain amid inflation and increasing interest rates.

Using credit cards for luxury items, vacations, or daily expenses without the ability to pay off the balance in full each month can result in high-interest payments and a cycle of debt. 

Car Loans for Depreciating Assets

While owning a car is often necessary, taking out a loan for a luxury car or one that rapidly depreciates may not be financially prudent, making it a prime example of bad debt.

Consumer Loans for Non-Essential Items

Borrowing money for non-essential items, such as expensive gadgets or designer clothing, falls into the category of bad debt. These items often depreciate rapidly and do not contribute to long-term financial well-being.

What is the Difference Between Good Debt and Bad Debt?

The primary difference between good debt and bad debt lies in the long-term impact on your financial health. After learning good and bad debt definitions, familiarize yourself with its differences. 

Return on Investment (ROI)

Good debt has the potential for a positive return on investment. For example, a mortgage can lead to home equity growth, while education loans may result in higher earning potential. Bad debt, on the other hand, often involves spending on items that depreciate, offering little to no return. 

Interest Rates

Good debt tends to have lower interest rates, reflecting the calculated risk associated with the investment. Bad debt, particularly credit card debt, often comes with high interest rates, exacerbating financial strain. 

When trying to avoid bad debt, take the time to learn how the interest on loans can affect your cost of borrowing and choose a lender that offers a transparent borrowing process.

Purpose and Planning

Good debt is typically incurred with a purpose and strategic planning, such as homeownership, education, or business growth. Bad debt, on the other hand, is often impulsive and lacks a long-term strategy. So, purpose and planning when borrowing money are key aspects of setting financial goals in both the short and long term. 

Good Debt vs Bad Debt: How to Be Cautious When Borrowing

Understanding the difference between good and bad debt is essential, but being cautious when borrowing is equally important. Here are some practical tips to navigate the borrowing landscape wisely.

Assess Affordability

Before taking on any debt, evaluate your ability to repay it comfortably. Calculate your monthly income and expenses to ensure the debt payments won’t strain your budget. Take the time to find the best cash loans in your city that won’t lead to financial stress or jeopardize your overall financial stability. 

Compare Interest Rates

Different types of debt come with varying interest rates. Prioritize borrowing with lower interest rates, especially for long-term commitments. Minimizing interest costs can significantly impact the overall affordability of the debt. 

Read and Understand Terms

Thoroughly review and understand the terms and conditions of any borrowing arrangement. Pay attention to interest rates, repayment schedules, and potential penalties for late payments. 

GoDay offers a quick and transparent loan application process, ensuring that there are no hidden fees involved in the process. Our goal is to ensure that you understand the difference between good vs bad debt, make sound financial decisions, and fulfill your obligations without any surprises.

How to Avoid Bad Debt

When you understand what good debt and bad debt are, it’s essential to learn how to steer clear of bad debt to avoid financial blunders. 

Emergency Fund

Building an emergency fund is a cornerstone of financial resilience. This fund is a financial safety net, ready to catch you when unexpected expenses arise. By consistently setting aside a portion of your income, you create a buffer that reduces the reliance on high-interest loans or credit cards during financial crises. 

If your emergency fund isn’t sufficient, you can also take out one or more loans, depending on your needs. Although having multiple loans at once is possible, we recommend paying off your first GoDay loan before applying for another one. This helps you keep your expenses in check to avoid accumulating too much debt.

Live Within Your Means

Living within your means involves aligning your expenses with your income and making intentional choices about your lifestyle. By avoiding overspending, you can protect your financial health and set the stage for a more secure and sustainable financial future. 

One of the key concerns when living within your means is differentiating between good vs bad debt and when to borrow money for essentials rather than luxuries.

Evaluate the Purpose of Borrowing

Before borrowing money, try to understand whether the debt you’re considering will contribute positively to your long-term financial well-being or if it’s merely a short-term indulgence. Consider the potential return on investment, both monetary and in terms of personal growth. 

You can get a small loan in Canada via GoDay through a simple online application. But before you apply, evaluating your purpose of borrowing with a strategic mindset, you can ensure that each financial decision aligns with your broader financial goals. 

Set Realistic Financial Goals

Establishing realistic financial goals provides a roadmap for your financial journey. Whether saving for a down payment on a home, funding your children’s education, or building a retirement nest egg, clear goals help guide your financial decisions. If paying off your debt quickly is one of your key goals, being realistic about your approach can be highly beneficial.


The distinction between good and bad debt is crucial for making informed financial decisions. Good debt represents investments with the potential for positive returns, such as education, homeownership, and business growth. In contrast, bad debt involves liabilities that offer little long-term value and can hinder financial progress. 

Navigating the financial landscape requires a cautious approach to borrowing. Managing debt through budgeting, prioritizing repayments, and considering debt consolidation can lead to financial stability. Ultimately, being mindful of your financial choices and understanding the implications of debt will empower you to build a secure and prosperous financial future while differentiating between good vs bad debt.