7 Ways to Consolidate Debt
by Matthew C. Keegan
If you are in debt, you have several options available to you in your quest to consolidate your balances and thereby reducing your monthly payments or paying off your loan faster. Let’s look at 7 of the most popular and effective ways for you to consolidate your debt.
1. Life Insurance. Yes, many life insurance policies have a cash pay out [loan] provision. If you have held the policy for quite some time, the amount of equity built up in it can be quite large. What if you can’t pay the insurer back? Good question! In many cases the amount you owe will be deducted from what your beneficiaries would receive upon your death.
2. Your Retirement Plan. If you have a 401(k) plan at work, you can usually borrow from the account and use these funds to pay off debt. Caution: if you do not pay back the loan within a certain specified time or you leave your job, you could be faced with penalties and tax charges from the Internal Revenue Service.
3. Credit Card Transfers. Chances are some of your outstanding loans are for double digit rates. Shop around and see if a credit card company will allow for you to transfer your outstanding balance over to them and at a significantly lower interest rate. Make sure that the cash transfer fees are low [better yet, see if you can have this fee waived] and that your interest rate remains fixed.
4. Home Equity Loans/Lines of Credit. If you own your own home, it is likely that you have built up equity in your home especially if you have lived there for several years and you live in an area of rapidly appreciating home values. If this is the case, lenders will be glad to offer to you a loan or line of credit based on your home’s value. You can use the loan/line of credit to pay off debt; in many cases the interest rate for the loan/line of credit is tax deductible too, whereas for a credit card debt it is not.
5. Renegotiate Your Loan. Some lenders will be all too happy to lower your outstanding interest rate, especially if in doing so they get to keep you as a customer. Sure, your 19.8% rate may only drop to 14 or 15%, but that may be all you need to get a handle on your debt.
6. Your Savings Institution. Banks, savings and loan associations, and credit unions may be able to help you consolidate debt by offering to you one loan that will pay off all your debt and allow for you to have a low, fixed-rate payment instead. Shop around, the rates vary!
7. Go to Mama! Family loans are a popular way to get rid of debt. Still, if you can’t pay them back, what effect will that "non-payment" have on your relationship with your family member? Sure, it may not effect your credit standing, but it certainly could have a negative effect on your family standing!
Naturally, you will want to explore each of these options and see which ones are the most feasible for you. Read the fine print and make sure you understand the terms of any debt consolidation loans. You want to reduce your debt, not create an avenue for further trouble.
(c)2005; Matthew C. Keegan, LLC
Matt writes extensively about business, health, and web management issues when not managing his busy sites including the Corporate Flight Attendant Community at http://www.cabinmanagers.com and the Aviation Employment Board at http://www.aviationemploymentboard.net