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Did you know that Americans now have more debt than ever?
In fact, this debt amounts to a hefty $13 trillion–and this number is likely on the rise.
Debt can sneak up on all of us, especially given life’s range of expenses. Student loans, vehicle financing, and mortgages may grant education, mobility, and home ownership, but they still all equate to debt.
Luckily, if you are struggling with debt management, there are options. One of these is debt consolidation.
How does debt consolidation work, and is it right for you? In this post, we answer these questions and more.
Keep reading for insight!
Most people accrue debt from a variety of sources. You may, for example, have credit card debt in addition to an auto loan or home mortgage.
This is very common, and it’s not necessarily a problem. It is possible to have “healthy debt” if you are a responsible borrower and if you can comfortably make your monthly payments.
Yet healthy debt can be hard to come by. Plenty of loans have high-interest rates, which can quickly get burdensome and keep you from saving what you need to be saving!
A lot of people also juggle multiple monthly payments. It can be tough to meet these, especially if you’re living paycheck to paycheck. (In fact, most Americans do!)
Unexpected situations such as family emergencies or medical expenses can be an additional challenge. These can add more to your debt and stress levels.
If you find yourself missing payments on any of your loans, you may face late payment fees. Credit card balances are also subject to potentially high-interest rates.
Debt consolidation strives to alleviate the stress of these potential situations. When you consolidate your debt, you lump your debt into one, single loan. This results in just one monthly payment and–in most cases–less interest due.
Debt consolidation sometimes sounds too good to be true. How does it work?
First, it’s important to note that there are, in general, two ways to consolidate debt: with a credit card balance transfer or a debt consolidation loan.
Both of these have the same goal, which is to get all of your debt into one monthly payment. Plus, they also strive to reduce interest and fees.
For people with a lot of credit card debt, this is a great means of consolidating. Users simply transfer all of their debt to one credit card. They must then pay off this balance within a given time frame.
Most people will seek out new cards that offer a 0% balance transfer APR and/or a $0 balance transfer fee. Plenty of credit cards offer these terms!
These terms mean that balance transfers won’t be subject to any fees. Once you transfer a balance, you won’t have to pay interest on that balance for a given period of time (sometimes up to a year).
If you aren’t eligible for such offers for any reason, have no fear. You can always transfer your credit card balances. These, however, will be subject to APR and/or transfer fees according to your card’s terms.
For this reason, identify your card’s balance transfer terms before you make a decision.
Another way to consolidate your debt is to take out a debt consolidation loan.
With this, borrowers take out a loan valued at their total debt. Generally, this loan is fixed-rate, meaning that its balance will have the same interest rate for the entire repayment period.
With this debt consolidation loan, borrowers pay off all of their existing debt. They will then work on repaying that loan in a given amount of time, generally at a lower interest rate.
Debt consolidation loans are ideal only if they do offer lower interest rates and fees than a borrower is paying on other loans.
You can get debt consolidation loans from a variety of sources. What’s more, they don’t have to be called a “debt consolidation loan” to count. Low-interest personal loans can also suffice.
Debt consolidation can be a relief for most borrowers, especially when it comes to reducing payments, interest, and fees. But is it right for you?
In general, debt consolidation is ideal for people who could benefit from a single monthly payment (rather than several).
It’s also the right choice for individuals who aren’t 100% drowning in debt. In general, your debt shouldn’t be more than half of your current income. If it is, it will be really tough to pay off that debt, even after it is consolidated!
Credit score can also play a role. In general, people with good to excellent credit are more eligible for 0% balance transfer terms on credit cards and low-interest consolidation loans.
If you have a lower credit score, you may struggle to find a consolidation method that actually saves you money.
It’s also important to have a plan in place once you do consolidate your debt. This plan should incorporate income sources and repayment terms.
Remember: debt consolidation doesn’t get rid of your debt. It only reorganizes it, in an attempt to reduce interest paid.
If you’ve decided that debt consolidation is right for you, begin by choosing how you wish to consolidate your debt. Is credit card consolidation right for you, or is a debt consolidation loan the way to go?
Next, start researching. Take your time to identify the best balance transfer terms and/or low-interest consolidation loan.
If you do intend to take out a loan for debt consolidation, browse lenders wisely. There are a lot of scams out there when it comes to debt consolidation, so look only for reputable lenders.
We also recommend inspecting your credit score before you hunt for offers. Remember: the higher your score, the better for securing terms likely to make debt consolidation worth it.
How does debt consolidation work? Debt consolidation involves lumping all of your debt into one loan to reduce payments and interest.
In general, debt consolidation can be a useful tool for individuals with debt that doesn’t surpass half of their income.
Are you ready to consolidate your debt? Apply for a loan now!
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