How to conquer your debt

How to conquer your debt

Australians are saving more than ever, but our household debt remains at high levels. According to the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA), household debt has been consistent at 150 percent of household annual income for the past six years. This has a lot to do with Australia’s sizeable mortgages, but credit card debt and other forms of personal debt are also to blame.

Some people take on too much debt or fail to manage the debt they have effectively, placing themselves in a perilous situation. Here are some tips to conquer your debt before it gets out of control.

Take a look at your debt

It’s easy to think of your mortgage as the only debt you have. But what about credit cards, car loans, personal loans, student debt, furniture or other household items bought on interest-free loans? The starting point for managing your debt is to be aware of how much you owe in the first place.

Consolidate your debts

Greg Pride, financial adviser with Centric Wealth, advises debt consolidation – taking out a personal loan to pay off other debts, such as credit card debt or a big furniture or electrical purchase. “It can help people see the wood from the trees,” he says. “When you have unnecessarily complicated arrangements, it can be easy to shrug your shoulders and put off dealing with the situation.”

Learn to budget

“Whether you are focused on debt reduction, not overspending on holidays or planning for retirement, it all hooks around the concept of planning what you are doing and having discipline,” says Pride. His advice is to plan out your entire year at the start of the year and create a budget, including planned holidays and a buffer for unexpected expenses.

To create a budget, begin by listing all your regular expenses (rent or mortgage, groceries, utilities, loan repayments, meals at restaurants, even your weekly takeaway coffee) and irregular expenses (insurance payments, clothing, car and house maintenance). Next, list your income. If you’re spending more than you earn, you have a problem. If you don’t have enough left over after covering your bills, tweak your expenses until you find enough.

Use your credit card like cash

Credit card debt is the biggest debt trap of them all. Rethinking your approach to credit cards can save you hundreds of dollars on interest. “If paid off in full each month, credit cards can be a marvelous tool. Otherwise they are a recipe for disaster,” Pride says. “Credit card interest rates are in the high teens when you can get a term deposit for [less than 4 percent]. It’s easy money for the banks.”

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What is debt consolidation?

Debt consolidation is the process of rolling several old debts into one new debt, usually to save money or for the sake of convenience.

How do I consolidate my debt if I have bad credit?

The worse your credit history, the harder you will find it to consolidate your debts, because lenders will be less willing to lend you money and will charge you higher interest rates.

However, people with bad credit histories can make debt consolidation work by following this three-step process:

  1. First, find a lender willing to give you a bad credit personal loan. This process will be simplified if you go through a finance broker or use a comparison website like RateCity.
  2. Second, make sure the interest repayments on your new loan are less than the repayments on the loans being replaced.
  3. Third, instead of spending those savings, use them to pay off the new loan.

What are the pros and cons of debt consolidation?

In some instances, debt consolidation can help borrowers reduce their repayments or simplify them. For example, someone might take out a $7,000 personal loan at an interest rate of 8 per cent so they can repay an existing $4,000 personal loan at 10 per cent and a $3,000 credit card loan at 20 per cent.

However, debt consolidation can backfire if the borrower spends the extra money instead of using it to repay the new loan.

What can I use a bad credit personal loan for?

Generally, bad credit personal loans can be used for the following purposes:

  • Debt consolidation
  • Paying bills
  • Buying vehicles
  • Moving expenses
  • Holidays
  • Weddings
  • Education

Some lenders restrict how their bad credit personal loans can be used as part of their commitment to responsible lending – be sure to check before applying.

What are the pros and cons of bad credit personal loans?

In some instances, bad credit personal loans can help people with bad credit history to consolidate their debts, which can help make it easier for them to clear those debts. This is because the borrower might be able to consolidate several debts with higher interest rates (such as credit card loans) into one single debt with a lower interest rate and potentially fewer fees.

However, this strategy can backfire if the borrower spends the loaned funds instead of using it to repay the new loan. Another disadvantage of bad credit personal loans is that they have higher interest rates than regular personal loans.

Can I get a no credit check personal loan?

Personal loans with no credit checks are available and called ‘payday loans’. These are sometimes used as short-term solutions for cash-strapped Australians. They often carry higher interest rates and fees than regular personal loans, and individuals risk putting themselves into a worsened cycle of debt.

Is it hard to improve your credit score?

It can be hard to improve your credit score, as it usually requires sacrifice and discipline, but hard doesn’t necessarily mean complicated. Some simple ways you can give your credit score a boost include closing extra credit cards, reducing your credit card limit, pay off any loans and make loan repayments on time.

As a general rule, the lower your credit score, the more remedies you can apply and the greater the scope for improvement.

Should I get a fixed or variable personal loan?

Fixed personal loans keep your interest rate the same for the full loan term, while interest rates on variable personal loans may be raised or lowered during your loan term.

A fixed rate personal loan keeps your repayments consistent, which can help keep your budgeting consistent. You won't have to worry about higher repayments if your rates were to rise. However, on a fixed loan you’ll also potentially miss out on more affordable repayments if variable rates were to fall.

Can I apply for a quick loan online?

While some lenders will require you to provide paperwork in person, many lenders will allow you to make an application for quick personal loan online. You’ll still need to provide information on your identity, income, and loan purpose in most cases.

Can I get a fast loan if I’m unemployed or on Centrelink?

Even if a lender has no credit checks, they will usually still need to confirm you can afford to repay a fast loan on your income before they’ll approve your application.

If 50% or more of your income comes from Centrelink payments, you may find it more difficult to have a fast loan application approved. Consider checking with the lender before applying to confirm if they lend to people on Centrelink.

Can I get a $4000 personal loan if I’m unemployed or on Centrelink?

Before most providers of personal loans or medium amount loans will approve an application, they’ll want to know you can afford the loan’s repayments on your current income without ending up in financial stress. Several lenders don’t count Centrelink benefits when assessing a borrower’s income for this purpose, so these borrowers may find it more difficult to be approved for a loan.

If you’re unemployed, self-employed, or if more than 50% of your income come from Centrelink, consider contacting a potential lender before applying to find out whether they accept borrowers on Centrelink.

How long does it take to get a student personal loan?

Completing an online personal loan application can often take anywhere from 10 minutes to 1 hour. Depending on your lender, processing your personal loan application may take anywhere between 1 and 24 hours. If your personal loan application is approved, you may receive the money in your bank account the following business day, or, in some cases, the same day.

Are there $2000 emergency loans?

If you’re having trouble being approved for a loan of less than $2000 and urgently need to purchase household essentials, there may be emergency loan options available to you.

For example, the No Interest Loans Scheme (NILS) allows low-income borrowers to take out interest-free loans of up to $1500 for essential goods and services.

For further assistance, consider contacting a financial counsellor, or calling the National Debt Helpline on 1300 007 007

What do credit scores have to do with personal loan interest rates?

There is a strong link between credit scores and personal loan interest rates because many lenders use credit scores to help decide what interest rates to offer to potential borrowers.

If you have a higher credit score, lenders will probably classify you as a lower-risk borrower. That means they’ll be keen to win your business, so they may offer you a lower interest rate if you apply for a personal loan.

If you have a lower credit score, lenders will probably classify you as a higher-risk borrower. That means they might be concerned about you defaulting on the loan and costing them money. As a result, they might protect themselves by charging you a higher interest rate.