Last Updated: April 07, 2024
When exploring your financial landscape, especially in the context of securing loans or managing business finances, the term "debt to equity ratio" frequently pops up as a key indicator of financial health. But what exactly is this ratio, and why does it matter for your financial strategy and debt management?
Understanding the nuances of the debt to equity ratio is crucial for anyone looking to make educated decisions about leveraging debt in relation to their equity. This blog post aims to demystify this financial metric, providing clear definitions and insights into what constitutes a good debt to equity ratio and how it can impact your financial decisions and opportunities.
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What is Equity?
Equity, for people, is what you have that is worth money or that has grown in value. Homes are the most common types of equity. If you have a mortgage of $150,000 and the house is valued at $200,000, you have $50,000 in equity. Your total equity is all your assets minus liabilities.
Cars and boats generally don't have equity as they lose value over time. Stocks, jewelry, artwork, and similar items may or may not have equity. It depends on how much you bought it for and how much someone is willing to pay for it.
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What are Assets?
An asset is like equity but includes your aftertax income. We are going to use asset and equity to mean the same thing. This is because most people do not have a lot of equity but do have assets. Since the formulas are used in business, the terms remain the same in personal finance where your total assets are value of everything you own.
When calculating your financial health, one important measure to consider is your debt to asset ratio. This ratio compares the total amount of debt you owe to the total value of your assets. A lower debt to asset ratio suggests that you have more assets relative to your debts, which is generally a favorable financial position. Conversely, a higher ratio indicates you have more debt compared to your assets, which could signal financial risk.
What is Debt?
Debt is what you owe. Loans, credit cards, mortgages, student loans, and similar items feed into debt. It can be divided into long and short term obligations or debt, like mortgages and short term debt that is due within a year. Adding those together gives you total debt.
What is Debt to Equity Ratio?
A ratio compares one value to another. The debt to equity ratio compares how much debt you have to how much equity you have.
 Calculate all your assets
 Calculate all your debts
 Subtract debts from assets to get net worth
 Divide total debt by net worth
This should give you a number less than one. If it is more than one, you have more debt than assets or you have made an error.
For instance, you owe $100,000 and have total assets of $200,000. $100,000/$200,000 = 0.5 Multiply this by 100 to get a percentage. Your debt to equity ratio is 50%.
Alternatively, if you have total debts of $200,000 and equity of $100,000 (200,000/100,000), you have a debt to equity ratio of 2 or 200%.
The lower the debt to equity percentage, the better you are situated. The person in the first example is in a better finance place than person 2.
If you are not fond of math, there are online calculators that will help you figure out your company's total debt due to equity ratio.
What is a debt to asset ratio?
A debt to asset ratio is like a debt to equity ratio, except your after tax income is added into your equity. Most lenders use debt to asset ratio as a clearer look at debt to equity ratio. This adds in your aftertax income for a better idea of how easily you can to borrow money repay your debts.
Why Do I Need A Good Debt to Asset Ratio?
You can figure out debt to assets two ways. The first is all debt except mortgage. The second is with a mortgage. Let's break it down with some numbers.
Debt to asset without mortgage
Add together all debts (loans, credit lines, credit cards, etc.) and divide by after tax income. Let's say you have $10,000 in debts and an aftertax income of $59,000 (the median US income). Your debt ratio is 0.17 or 17%.
Debt to asset with mortgage
Add together all debts plus the total of 12 monthly mortgage payments and divide by after tax income. Using the same example, you have $10,000 in debt plus $12,360 (based on US averages) in mortgage payments and the aftertax income of $59,000 Your debt ratio is now 0.38 or 38%.
Your debt to asset ratio can give you a clearer picture of your overall financial health than the debt to equity ratio, as it takes into account all your assets, not just equity. Lenders often use this ratio to determine your ability to repay a loan. A lower ratio means you have more assets relative to your debt, which can make you a more appealing borrower.
What is a Good Debt to Equity Ratio?
Now that you have some numbers, what do they mean? The ideal debt to equity ratio, using the formula above, is less than 10% without a mortgage and less than 36% with a mortgage.
If you exceed 36%, it is very easy to get into debt. Most lenders hesitate to lend to someone with a debt to equity/asset ratio over 40%. Over 40% is considered a bad debt equity ratio for banks.
Similarly, a good debt to asset ratio typically falls below 0.4 or 40%. This means that your total debt is less than 40% of your total assets. Having a debt to asset ratio above this threshold could make it more difficult to obtain loans or favorable interest rates.
High and low debt to equity ratios
When you look at debt to equity ratios, a high ratio means you probably don't have enough equity to cover your debts.
A very low ratio also means you can take advantage of your equity to take out loans if you want.
A high ratio is anything over 40% or 0.4.
A low ratio is less than 36% (0.36) with a mortgage or 10% (0.1) without a mortgage.
People often have questions about specific debt to equity ratios. Let's answer them here.
 Is it better to have a higher or lower debttoequity ratio?
Answer: A lower debt to equity ratio is better.  Is a debttoequity ratio below 1 GOOD?
Answer: It means you have more assets than debt.  Is 0.4 debttoequity ratio good?
Answer: This is also 40%. It is not very good.  What does a debttoequity ratio of 2.5 mean?
Answer: It means you have 2.5 times the debt as assets.  Is 1.7 A good debttoequity ratio?
Answer: You have 1.7 times the debt as assets  Is 0.5 a good debttoequity ratio?
Answer: It is higher than banks like to see.  What does a debttoequity ratio of 0.8 mean?
Answer: You have almost more debt than you do assets  Is 10% a good debttoincome ratio?
Answer: Yes. It is very good.  Is a debttoequity ratio of 75% good?
Answer: No. It is too high.
How to Improve your Debt to Equity Ratio
To improve your debt to asset ratio, you could focus on reducing your debts and/or increasing your assets. This could involve paying down loans, credit card balances, or other forms of debt, as well as increasing your savings or investments to grow your assets. It's important to approach this process gradually and sustainably, focusing on strategies that fit your financial situation and goals.
What if I can't improve my debt to equity ratio?
If you have credit card debt in excess of $10,000 and are having trouble paying it down, Pacific Debt, Inc may be able to help you out.
Contact one of our debt specialists for afree consultation.
Disclaimer: We are not attorneys or accountants and can not give you legal advice. If you have legal or tax questions, you should contact the appropriate expert.
Some Business Terminology
Whether you are an individual or small business owner, this concept applies to both. It's good to know what these terms mean.
Balance Sheet
A company's balance sheet details assets, liabilities, and shareholders' equity at a specific point in time. The balance sheet can indicate a company's financial health and where changes need to be made. Look online to find a balance sheet template. Before you invest, you may want to see the company's balance sheet.
Capital
Capital is the money or assets available to a company and is known as the company's equity. Companies may raise additional capital by offering stock. Some companies are in financial and manufacturing industries considered capital intensive industries. These capital intensive companies are ones that require land, buildings or plants, equipment, vehicles, or heavy equipment.
Cash flow
A company's cash flow looks at the amount of cash in and cash out. Cash flow can indicate the health of a a company finances. Companies also have a cash ratio that considers the cash or assets that can be turned quickly into cash versus debt.
Liabilities
Liabilities are the company's debt load. Assets minus liabilities can indicate the health of a company or financial distress of a family. A company's total liabilities are all the debts and commitments owed to a third party.
Financial leverage
A company's important financial metric of leverage is using a company's debt to buy assets. Debt to equity ratio is a form of leverage ratio.
Assets
A company's assets include cash, inventory, buildings, and property added to the intangible assets. Assets minus liabilities yields the net worth of a company personal assets.
Corporate finance
Corporate finance looks are sources of financing, corporate capital structure, actions that increase the value of the company's short term leverage back to the shareholders, and the tools used to allocate financial resources.
Finance operations provide financial advice and guidance to a company. Equity financing is the ownership of assets with attached liabilities. Finance growth is a method of mixing existing debt, and equity to entice lenders to lend money. Debt financing is selling bonds, bills or notes to raise capital. People have more debt financing options like credit card debt and loans from family.
Shareholders equity
The total shareholder equity is the amount of money that would be returned to shareholders if the company was liquidated. Total shareholders equity represents the net worth of equity shareholders in the company.
Disclaimer: We are not attorneys or accountants and can not give you legal advice. If you have legal or tax questions, you should contact the appropriate expert.

What is the debttoequity ratio (D/E ratio)?
The debttoequity ratio is a financial metric used to evaluate a company's level of financial leverage. It measures the proportion of a company's debt relative to its equity, indicating the degree to which a company is financed by debt versus equity.

How is the debttoequity ratio calculated?
The debttoequity ratio is calculated by dividing a company's total liabilities (debt) by its total shareholders' equity. The formula is: DebttoEquity Ratio = Total Liabilities / Shareholders' Equity.

What does a high debttoequity ratio indicate?
A high debttoequity ratio typically indicates that a company has been financing its operations primarily through debt rather than equity. While high leverage can amplify returns during periods of growth, it also increases the company's financial risk, making it more vulnerable to economic downturns or changes in interest rates.

What does a low debttoequity ratio indicate?
A low debttoequity ratio suggests that a company relies less on debt financing and has a stronger equity base. While a low ratio may indicate financial stability and lower risk, it could also imply that the company is not taking full advantage of leverage to grow its operations.

What is considered a good debttoequity ratio?
The interpretation of a "good" debttoequity ratio varies across industries and depends on factors such as the company's business model, growth stage, and risk tolerance. In general, a debttoequity ratio of 1 or lower is often considered conservative, indicating a balanced mix of debt and equity financing. However, what is considered acceptable can differ significantly between industries and individual companies.

How does the debttoequity ratio impact investors?
Investors use the debttoequity ratio to assess a company's financial health and risk profile. A higher ratio may make a company less attractive to investors due to increased financial risk and potential difficulties in meeting debt obligations. Conversely, a lower ratio may signal financial stability and a stronger ability to weather economic challenges.

Can the debttoequity ratio be too low?
While a low debttoequity ratio is generally viewed positively, an extremely low ratio may indicate that a company is overly reliant on equity financing, potentially missing out on opportunities to leverage debt for growth or tax benefits. Investors need to consider the context of the ratio within the company's industry and growth objectives.
Conclusion
Understanding your debttoequity ratio is more than a numerical exercise; it's a crucial step towards financial health and strategic planning, whether for personal finances or within a business context. A good debttoequity ratio reflects a balance between debt and equity, indicating a solid foundation for managing financial obligations and supporting growth.
While the ideal ratio may vary depending on individual circ*mstances and industry standards, aiming for a ratio that lenders and investors consider healthy is essential. Remember, a lower debttoequity ratio generally signifies less reliance on borrowed funds, offering more stability during economic downturns.
However, leveraging debt wisely can also be a powerful tool for growth and expansion when used responsibly. If your ratio is higher than desired, consider strategies to reduce debt or increase equity to improve your financial standing.
If you are struggling with overwhelming debt and want to explore your debt relief options, Pacific Debt Relief offers afree consultationto assess your financial situation. Our debt specialists can provide objective guidance relevant information and support to help find the right debt relief solution.
References
https://www.investopedia.com/terms/d/debtratio.asp
https://finance.zacks.com/personalfinancedebtratio6256.html
https://www.cnbc.com/2017/10/27/whataverageormiddleclassamericanmeansmattersmorethanever.html