Guide to Debt Consolidation: Everything You Need to Know
Financial stress is no joke. If you're reading this guide, the chances are you've felt the weight of financial stress in your life and you want to consider your options. You're not alone, Positive Lending Solutions are experts in personal and asset finance loans, having worked with thousands of customers considering debt consolidation. Managing debt can be a juggling act so debt consolidation is a popular option for people looking to simplify their finances.
In this blog, we'll walk you through the ins and outs of debt consolidation to help you navigate this often intimidating financial journey.
What are debt consolidation loans?
Imagine this: you've got bills piling up - credit card statements, a car loan, a personal loan, some buy-now-pay-later to pay off and more. Each comes with its own interest rate, due date, and minimum payment, and it's tough to keep track every month. Debt consolidation is simply a loan that helps you bring all these scattered payments into a single, manageable payment.
This means that instead of juggling various payments, you'll make one monthly payment toward your consolidated loan.
But how does it work? Essentially, you take out a new loan with the goal of paying off your existing debts. Depending on your circumstances this can come with a lower interest rate, making it easier on your wallet.
How to consolidate your debts (step by step)
Getting started with debt consolidation might seem daunting so let's break it down into a few straightforward steps:
Step 1: Assess your debts
Before you jump into debt consolidation, you need to have a clear understanding of your current financial situation. List all your debts, including the outstanding balances, interest rates, fees and minimum monthly payments. This overview will help you decide if consolidation is the right move for you.
Step 2: Explore your loan options
There are different ways to consolidate your debts, and your choice depends on your circumstances. Here are a few common options:
- Personal loans: These are unsecured loans that can be used for consolidating debt. They often come with fixed interest rates.
- Home equity loans or lines of credit: If you own a home, you might consider using its equity to secure a loan.
- Balance transfer credit cards: Some credit cards offer interest free promotional periods, which can be utilised to transfer debt without interest. This option requires careful consideration of your ability to pay down the debt in the promotional period without spending extra on the credit card. Make sure to review the fees and terms and conditions carefully.
Working with a personal finance broker can help you consider the options available to you from a variety of lenders so you can find a suitable loan for your needs.
Step 3: Crunch the numbers
Before applying for a new loan, use a loan calculator and make sure the new repayments will be lower than your monthly costs calculated in step 1.
Step 4: Apply for a debt consolidation loan
Once you've chosen the right consolidation method for you, it's time to apply. This is where your credit score and financial history come into play so lenders can check your eligibility.
During the application process make sure you select 'debt consolidation' as the purpose of the loan so the assessment team knows that you will be paying off outstanding debts with the loan as these debts will show up in your credit report.
If you are working with a broker, they can manage the application with the lender on your behalf to make the process easier for you.
Step 5: Pay off existing debts
Once you secure the consolidation loan, use it to pay off your existing debts. It's essential to ensure that the funds are used exclusively for this purpose. Enjoy the simplicity of a single monthly payment instead of juggling various due dates and amounts.
Can I get a debt consolidation loan with bad credit?
If you're concerned about your credit score, you're not alone. Some people considering debt consolidation have experienced financial challenges that have impacted their credit. The good news is that it's still possible to get a debt consolidation loan with a less-than-perfect credit score, though it may require some additional steps.
Traditional lenders may have strict credit score requirements, but there are lenders who specialise in bad credit debt consolidation loans, and they are more willing to work with individuals with lower credit scores.
Additionally, you can work on improving your credit before applying for a consolidation loan by paying down some debt, making on-time payments, and addressing any errors on your credit report.
Pros & cons of debt consolidation
Like any financial decision, debt consolidation comes with its own set of pros and cons that you’ll need to weigh up to determine if this approach is right for your specific situation.
- Simplified repayment: With debt consolidation, you have a single, predictable monthly payment to manage. No more juggling multiple due dates and amounts, which can reduce stress and make budgeting easier.
- Potentially lower interest rates: Debt consolidation loans can come with lower interest rates than high-interest credit cards. This means you could save money in the long run.
- Potentially faster debt repayment: If you secure a lower interest rate, less fees and structure your repayment plan well this may allow you to pay off your debt faster, helping you achieve financial freedom sooner.
- Opportunity to improve credit score: While taking out another loan may temporarily impact your credit score, by consolidating your debt and then paying off the new loan you could see your credit score improved overall.
- Loan exit fees: Depending on how your existing loans are structured, you could have to pay exit fees if you switch loans as part of your debt consolidation.
- Potential for higher costs: While debt consolidation can save you money with lower interest rates depending on your circumstances, if you have a poor credit score, you may be charged a higher interest rate.
- Not suitable for everyone: Debt consolidation may not be the best solution for everyone. It's essential to assess your financial discipline, total debt amount, and the interest rates on your existing debts before proceeding.
Debt consolidation is a lifeline for many individuals struggling with multiple debts, offering a path towards simplicity and financial freedom. We've discussed what debt consolidation is, the steps to consolidate your debts, its pros and cons, how to determine if it's right for you, and even how to secure a debt consolidation loan with bad credit.
Remember, there's no one-size-fits-all solution, and your path may involve different steps – this is a guide to help you understand your options. The most crucial factor is to make informed decisions that empower you to take control of your financial future.
Your journey to a debt-free future begins with knowledge, if you are ready to explore your options for a debt consolidation loan talk to one of our friendly personal finance experts today or get a quick quote online