As a general rule, larger sums of money can be borrowed at lower rates of interest. So if youre in the position where you have a number of small loans, you may want to consider consolidating all your loans into one larger loan at a lower rate of interest.
But, as always, I feel that its my duty to warn you of the unseen pitfalls that are associated with consolidation loans.
Now it goes without saying that you should avoid accepting consolidation loans from mysterious companies that advertise in the back of national newspapers. Many of them are only one step up the food chain from loan sharks, and their interest rates are usually astronomical.
Only consider consolidating with a reputable lender. But even then you must be very, very careful! These are two rules that you should stick to like a limpet.
1) Never borrow more money than you need to cover the loans that you want to consolidate.
2) Never borrow the money over a longer period than your current debts.
All will become clear as we continue. Just remember, if you break these rules then youre asking for bankruptcy!
Right, the first thing to do is to find out the terms of the proposed deal…to the last letter! Theyre not always as good as they seem.
Know how the deal works and what will be required of you both financially and practically. The more you know about the agreement, the fewer nasty surprises youll receive!
Dont let their sales force talk you into borrowing more than you need. All their sales patter is utter fabrication thats designed to get you to borrow even more! Their slick presentations will ‘show you how you could ‘borrow more but pay less
They claim that the larger sum will give you more money to spend yet cost you less each month. This is a classic trick thats used to make you borrow even more. But theyre just taking advantage of the fact that youll be repaying the debt over a longer period of time at a lower rate of interest. Dont fall for it! Its a con!
Lets take a typical example. Imagine you had five different loans of $2000 each, spread over 5 years at 17% APR. They would cost you a total of $242.05 every month. So you intend to consolidate, borrowing $10000 over 5 years at 6.7% APR at a cost of $195.85 per month.
That would give you almost £50 a month to reduce the size of your debts even faster. At least that was your intention!
But you leave the consultation having been ‘convinced (or conned) to borrow $15000 over 7 ½ years at 9.5% APR at a cost of $230.63 per month. You briefly wonder what happened, but then console yourself with the fact that youve got another $5k on the hip and have ‘saved $11.42 a month, quite oblivious to the fact that youll now be repaying the loan for 2 ½ years longer.
Youve been conned! They must have seen you coming!
And the result? Instead of paying 60 x $242.05 = $14523 under your old selection of loans, or even 60 x $195.85 = $11751 under your intended consolidation plans, youll now pay 90 x $230.63 = $20756.70. It means that your attempts to ‘save have cost you $6233.70 more than you were originally paying and $9005.70 more than you could have been paying.
In effect youve just broken two of the cardinal consolidation sins that I mentioned earlier.
Youve borrowed MORE money than you strictly need over a LONGER period than you needed!
Dont fall for all their lies. They may be very plausible, but then they should be, thats how they make their living! Slick, feel-good presentations that make you wonder how you could ever have lived your life without them and their ‘wonderful products. Dont allow them to lend you any extra. Dont borrow over a longer period. It will only cost you more in interest, despite what they tell you.
Before you approach a consolidation lender, know exactly how much you want to borrow and how long you want to borrow it for. Then stick to it, regardless of what they say! And if they cant provide what you want, then go elsewhere.
Finally, use the quoted APR rates to decide which loan is better value. In many countries, lenders MUST tell you the APR if you ask.
Its also vital to know whether there are any penalties for late payments. Find out everything before you sign anything!
If the sums involved are large (normally $20000 plus), most lenders will require security, such as a mortgage over your home, before they offer you a consolidation loan.
If you accept that and fail to keep up with the repayments your house could be repossessed. Let me say that again. Caution: Your home could be at risk if you fail to keep up with the repayments!
So you must be deadly earnest about your ability to keep up with the repayments before you sign anything! You must be 100% committed to repaying the loan.
Consolidation loans should never be entered into lightly. They can help to speed up the repayment of your debts (due to the lower rate of interest), but they are the last chance saloon!
Make sure you read and understand EVERY clause of the small print before you sign the agreement.
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Stuart runs a website dedicated to helping people get out of debt. So if you want to improve your financial position, visit http://www.icanhelpyougetoutofdebt.com for free, impartial information on how to reduce debt.