Debt Consolidation Loan, Home Equity Loan, Adjustable Rate Mortgages... Are these financial solution buzzwords perplexing you too? Don't fret, like many Americans trying not only to comprehend all your options but understand how they might benefit you can be confounding.
With interest rates rising, the average FRM was up to 6.72% on Friday, May 12th from 5.50% a year ago the same time according to HSH Associates it's imperative that consumers weigh their options carefully. Trendy financial advice today calls for consolidating debt or refinancing your mortgage or both. And, while I agree this is plausible advice, what's most important is evaluating your specific situation then identifying the means to which will best solve your financial strife.
Ultimately the short-term goal is to get yourself in a situation where you can make a fair payment on a schedule or with a provider you're comfortable with. The long-term goal for us all, is to become debt free. And, if you're a homeowner, you are seeking to gain 100% equity in your property.
Through debt consolidation you can begin to guide yourself down a path toward financial well being. There are varying benefits of debt consolidation; below highlights what I consider the most favorable:
1. Clearing Your Debt Quicker: The primary goal for your consolidated loan is to become debt free. With no plan it generally takes 12-15 years to become debt free. Your debt consolidation target should be 3-5 years. After attaining your goal the purchasing options you've always dreamed of will become available to you.
2. Constructing a payment plan that best meets your payment abilities: Having a sound plan in place will give you peace of mind and a feeling of accomplishment. Without it you'll miss payments and could potentially end up in a more dire position than when you started.
3. Consolidation: Sometimes it's less about the amount we owe than the overwhelming number of different bills we're managing each month. If you only have one person to pay the likelihood you'll pass over a bill declines.
4. Lower Interest Rates: One of the most important secondary goals for your consolidated loan is to have a (much) lower interest rate than what you were previously paying. As time passes you, along with your pocket book, will begin to feel the relief.
Of course with all that seems so easy and sensible there are disadvantages. For example:
1. "Piggybacking" - Is a term loan providers tend to use for PPI (payment protection insurance). Lenders commonly "piggyback" their loans with PPI payments. Be sure to ask what this is and covers when applying for your loan. Essentially this assures the lender, in the event of an accident or unemployment, your payments will continue to be made.
2. Borrowing against home equity - This is the biggest risk, if you default on your loan you could lose your home.
After having weighed the pros and cons the next steps to becoming debt free is assessing your situation, determining an appropriate resolution, setting a goal then accomplishing it! Diligence throughout the process is imperative, being lazy and pulling the trigger on a "quick fix" will only negatively affect you. If done properly Debt Consolidation will ultimately save you hundreds of dollars.
The three most popular forms of Debt Consolidation are Zero-percent Credit Cards, Debt Consolidation Loans and for home owners a Home Equity Loan or Line of credit.
For people who don't own homes and have good credit a Zero-percent credit card is a nice option to reduce debt. However, if your credit is in question qualifying for a zero-percent or even reduced interest rate card will be difficult. If you're sure you'll qualify, be sensible when choosing a new lender, banks persuade consumers with low interest rates. However, if you miss a payment or two that enticing interest rate could climb significantly... leaving you back at square one.
In her Take care with your zero-percent credit card article Lucy Lazarony suggests, "You'll also want to be quick with your card payments. Pay late even once and that zero-percent interest rate will disappear for good."
Another option for those who don't own homes is a Debt Consolidation Loan. This is a nice option for those of you who may have more of an issue paying multiple vendors than paying at all. They sell convenience, a one-stop shop for all your credit issues.
Credit unions and banks have designed Debt Consolidation Loans as a means for you to consolidate your debts into one low monthly payment. Know that if you don't have anything to secure your debt against you're likely to receive higher rates.
As is the case with everything we've discussed, be prudent in researching offers.
Home Equity loans are the crème de la crème for homeowners or so it may seem. A Home Equity Loan is a second mortgage that lets you turn the equity you have in your home into cash. They're great because interest on a home equity loan is often fully tax deductible. The biggest disadvantage is that, if you default on your payments you'll lose your home. Obviously this is something to be heavily weighed when considering this option.
Set up a meeting with your bank or lender and ask them to take you through the process their policies and your options. Don't be afraid to ask questions.
As you go through the process, consider the following before choosing your plan:
· What types of loans are available to me? If you're a homeowner you can consider a Home Equity loan or line of credit. Additionally, for those who don't own homes there are debt consolidation loans and zero-percent credit card balance transfers.
· Am I truly comfortable with borrowing money to get out of debt, Is this my best option?
· Where is my interest rate ceiling, if I go above this will the loan really help that much?
· Can I get a fixed rate or is a variable rate my only option? Generally speaking debt consolidators won't offer you a fixed rate loan.
· Set goals for how much you want your monthly payments to be and for how long you want to be bound to this loan.
· Down the road, if you're position to repay or refinance the loan are there consequences, what are they? Often lenders will impose redemption penalties for early settlement.
· Is the loan insured, what additional costs does that include?
· Finally, if you're a home owner securing the loan against your home make sure penalties for late payment are communicated clearly. And, if you plan on moving in the near future are there consequences? Again, occasionally lenders will impose a penalty if you move or require the loan being paid in full before you move.
Hopefully now you're ready, remember there are solutions out there for all of us. While it's not easy, solving your debt problems is certainly possible. Like most things in life, you're likely going to get out of it what you put into it.
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