Any debt is a trap if not handled diligently. And during these tough times managing your resources expertly can go a long way in living a debt-free life.
It takes more than just a steady stream of income and paying your bills on time to save you from falling into a debt trap. There might also arise some real contingencies when one needs to raise money.
And more often than not many of us consider a personal loan as the best option to meet contingencies. But availing a personal loan without studying its terms and conditions and services could cost you more than what you intended.
Evaluate other options before you take up a personal loan
Before you approach a bank for a personal loan, weigh any other option that you may have to raise the necessary money like monetising your assets, or selling off your shares, bonds or debentures or premature closing of your fixed deposits.
If you are a salaried person, and the above options are not available, then the best way to get funds to meet a contingency is to approach the bank where your salary credit is done. Having known your track record and your exact income and withdrawal transactions, the banks are the best option available for you to secure a loan.
The rate of interest could be relatively lower for you, as you bank with them. The same option holds good for any businessman having a current/savings account with a bank.
But remember, taking a personal loan should be the last resort. A personal loan comes in various packages with varying terms and conditions.
For example, an unsecured personal loan or a signature loan comes loaded with higher rate of interest due to the inherent risk factor involved in it. A single default on your loan payment could not only put you into trouble in paying your current loan but could mar your credit repayment history and subsequently your chances of getting any other loan in the future.
Before going in for a personal loan it is advisable to put in your best efforts to find out the best deals available in the market. Online portals could give you the personal loan details you are looking for. And beware of accepting a flat rate of interest for your personal loan. Superficially it may appear to be the best bet but in many cases and down the road it turns out to be a much expensive proportion.
But if you have already taken a personal loan and thinking of ways to pay off your debt, here are some important tips:
If you have one or more of these assets such as car, home, life insurance policies, tax saving certificates, shares, bonds and debentures, or gold jewelry, bank fixed deposits, or mutual funds, you could monetise them to pay off your debt. In fact, some banks offer loan against assets that carry a decent rate of interest which could be used to settle your personal loan.
Consider debt consolidation
Another effective way of dealing with your debts is through what is called debt consolidation. In this method, you could pay a relatively lower installment every month over a longer tenure to the lender who will combine all the components of your debt portfolio into one.
Debt consolidation is an effective option if you have too many loans to take care of and not enough monetary capacity for astute financing as this method will give you a built-in view of your credit worthiness.
Though beware that when you calculate the total loan cost in the long run, it might become expensive. However, the idea is to obtain a short term relief under the current circumstances. Once your finances improve aim to close the loan earlier than planned.
Top up or convert to a secured loan
If you had taken a home loan you can move to a lower cost credit by going for a top up on your current loan. Another viable option would be to talk to your bank and if they agree convert the current loan into a secured loan against your vehicles, house, but only if the property is free form debts, liens or mortgages. This way you can restructure the loan for a lower monthly payment after taking into consideration the loan tenure and the interest rate.
Perhaps, the only drawback in converting a personal loan into other loans having collateral is that you stand to lose the collateral at risk in case of default on your loan amount, which could mean a lot when there is a contingency in the future.
Hence, it is advisable to convert your current debt into a secured loan only after analysing your capacity to repay the secured loan so that you don't stand to lose the collateral at risk.
As said, even a single default on your personal loan could trigger unexpected after-effects in the repayment of your current loan and getting a future loan.
In cases of the first default, it is ideal for you to talk to your lender and find a way out. Under normal circumstances the lender could impose a penalty of roughly around 2 per cent on the default amount, which will only add to your current burden. So strive to discuss any problems you face with the lender to seek advise on possible solutions.
Remember, a personal loan is always a risky alternative finance with a higher rate of interest and it is better to close the loan as early as possible.